Jussie Smollett won’t appear in the final two episodes of Empire this season, producers revealed on Friday.
Producers and 20th Century Fox had supported Smollett once news broke that he was a potential victim of a hate crime, saying he was “a consummate professional on set,” and wasn’t being removed from the show. But after the actor was charged by the Chicago Police Department for filing a false police report, he was suspended from the show, according to BuzzFeed News.
The statement, obtained by BuzzFeed, reads:
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.” -Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer, executive producers of EMPIRE.
Smollett turned himself into the Chicago Police on Thursday and was charges with a felony.
The actor and singer claimed that on Jan. 29 he was attacked by two men, who hurled racist and homophobic slurs toward him, made political comments referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, placed a noose over his neck and poured a chemical substance on him. Chicago police, however, said Smollett worked with two brothers to stage the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary. According to reports, Smollett makes $65,000 per episode of Empire.
Smollett’s legal team denied the allegations that he manufactured the attack and told EBONY in a statement:
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.”