Jussie Smollett is set to return to television in an upcoming episode of Empire amid controversy surrounding an attack he allegedly staged on himself earlier this year.
According to Entertainment Tonight, the 36-year-old will be featured in next week’s spring premiere on Wednesday, March 13. Jussie plays Jamal Lyon in the series, the son of Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), who run Empire Entertainment.
The show is currently in its fifth season, which premiered on September 26, 2018. The actor last appeared in Episode 9, “Had It From My Father,” which aired on December 5 and saw Jamal’s fiance Kai uncover secrets about his father and the company, causing some friction between the two. The upcoming episode kicks off the second half of Season 5, and will see Jamal and Kai “try to figure out where they stand as a mystery begins to unravel.”
News of his appearance in next week’s episode did not go over well with some fans of the series, many of whom took to Twitter to express their distaste in his return.
“After all the #JussieSmollett lies and drama. I could careless about #EmpireonFox returning next week. I been watching since season one…I’m done!” a third user wrote, adding in the hashtag “#cancelEmpireonFox.”
Queen Latifah is vowing to stand by "Empire" star Jussie Smollett until she sees "definitive proof" he orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself. https://t.co/d1CYtcrtwG— huffpostqueer (@huffpostqueer) March 5, 2019
Jussie’s return to television comes amid a major controversy surrounding the actor. In January, it was alleged that the star staged an attack on himself, which Chicago police now believe was orchestrated in an attempt to further his career. It is also alleged that a few weeks prior to the purported hoax attack, Smollett set himself a threatening letter that did not receive the attention he was hoping for.
The actor was charged with filing a fake police report — a class four felony that could lead to a maximum of three years in prison. Jussie is currently out on $10,000 bond after surrendering to police in late February, and has maintained his innocence in the matter.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Empire‘s executive producers announced shortly after his arrest that Smollett would not be appearing in the season’s final two episodes, though Entertainment Tonight reports that he will still be paid for them.
In a statement, the show’s executive producers acknowledged that Jussie was an “important member of our Empire family” but that they would be trusting the legal system to determine whether or not there is truth to the allegations against him.
“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 statement read.
As of now, it is unclear how Jamal’s storyline will wrap up this season.
Empire returns to Fox next week on March 13 at 8 p.m. ET.