Jussie Smollett has been removed from the final episodes of Empire Season 5, and he may not return for Season 6, as Fox is said to be considering firing the actor and recasting the character of Jamal Lyon.
According to TVLine, Jussie Smollett’s future on Empire isn’t looking good. The series is said to be trying to figure out what direction the show will head following the actor’s arrest for allegedly staging an attack against himself, which he called a hate crime.
Sources tell the outlet that the show’s co-creator, Lee Daniels, loosely based the character of Jamal after himself, and is strongly suggesting recasting the role if and when Smollett is officially let go from the series.
On Friday, the network announced that they would removing Jussie from the final two episodes of the series to “avoid further disruption on set.” Following Smollett’s arrest and bail hearing, the actor went straight to the Empire set, where he reportedly apologized to the cast and crew, and maintained his innocence in the process.
“While these allegations are very disturbing. We are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out,” the statement added, seemingly confirming that the network will see what happens with Jussie going forward, and if he is convicted on the felony charges of filing a false police report.
Meanwhile, any casting changes wouldn’t take effect until Season 6 of the show, which isn’t a given. Although the series is the network’s No. 2 rated drama, it has yet to be renewed for next season, but hopes are high that the series will come back, barring that Jussie Smollett’s drama doesn’t disrupt the plans.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” a statement from Jussie’s legal team read, following his arrest.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Jussie’s Empire cast and crew members are said to be furious with him for all of the bad publicity, production delays, and rumors that have been flying around about the show since police accused him of staging a hate crime against himself.
TMZ reports that many of the show’s cast members are fed up with Smollett, and feel betrayed by him, and some even want him to be fired, feeling that if the network doesn’t give him the boot, then he should simply quit on his own due the spectacle he’s caused.
Jussie Smollett has yet to speak out about his future on Empire.