Jussie Smollett out of last two episodes of upcoming “Empire” season: “We are placing our trust in the legal system”
Executive producers for Empire have announced that Jussie Smollett, accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in Chicago, won’t appear on the final two Season 5 episodes of the Fox network series.
“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,” the statement from “Empire” executive producers read.
“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.”
The announcement comes one day after Smollett — who has played singer-songwriter Jamal Lyon on “Empire” since the show premiered in 2015 — surrendered to Chicago police on a felony charge of disorderly conduct alleging he made a false police report.
Smollett, 36, maintained his innocence in a statement his attorneys issued Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the Empire cast and crew are trying to wrap up the final episodes of Season 5. The Fox network has not yet announced if the musical drama will be renewed for a sixth season. New Season 5 episodes are scheduled to begin airing March 13.