A recent statement from the producers of FOX’s Empire state that actor Jussie Smollett has not been cut from season 5, despite reports to the contrary. This is the latest turn of events in the increasingly strange case of the alleged late-January racist and homophobic attack on the actor that reportedly left him beaten, doused in a bleach-like substance, and with a rope around his neck. The investigation into the alleged attack on the actor has shifted focus recently, in the wake of Chicago police questioning two persons of interest, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were released without charge on the night of February 15.
It appears the investigation has begun to consider the possibility that the actor himself may have been involved in the staging of his own attack, amid concerns he was being written off the Chicago-set FOX drama. With the investigation’s shift in focus it was reported by Deadline that the actor’s scenes in the currently filming episode had been cut back. While the show’s producers and the network have not commented regarding the specifics of Smollett’s reported scene reduction, the most recent statement once again confirms support of the actor and refutes rumors he’s being written off the show.
As reported by TVLine, 20th Century Fox released a statement that stands by Smollett in light of the investigation into his alleged attack having “shifted trajectory,” according to Chicago Police Department communications director Anthony Gugliemi. In its statement, Fox asserts Smollett’s continued participation in Empire and the actor’s professionalism. The statement reads:
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show.”
This is just the latest in what has proven to be a confusing and complex series of events surrounding the attack. Since the focus of the investigation has shifted, Smollett has been sought for further questioning by the Chicago PD, who seek additional information regarding the actor’s version of the events on the night in question. Though Smollett has reportedly yet to appear for an additional round of questioning, his lawyers did release a statement this past Saturday that read:
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
As of now, Smollett continues to be a part of Empire and appears to have the support of both 20th Century Fox and the show’s producers behind him.
Empire season 5 resumes Wednesday, March 13 on FOX.