After the shocking news earlier this week that charges have been dropped against actor Jussie Smollett, the actor told the press that he’s looking forward to resuming his life and getting back to work. There’s a chance that work might not be on Empire.
According to a Deadline report Tuesday, while Empire will probably be renewed for another season, the series will go forward “most likely without Smollett.”
“Things are so unclear and there is a feeling that this isn’t over, that there’s more to come,” a source referred to as “an insider of the actor’s legal circumstances and ramifications” told Deadline. The option on Smollett’s contract with the show is up in late June, and he had already been dropped from the last episodes of the current season.
The decisions by Fox Entertainment, the production entity which was recently acquired by Disney, will be formed by public opinion considerations, as well as by political considerations in Chicago. The show films in that city, and therefore good relations with politicians are important. The Fox network, which airs Empire, is still part of the main Fox company.
In addition to the public anger from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police leadership over the decision by Cook County prosecutors to drop the 16 charges against the actor, Smollett still faces an investigation into whether he faked the threatening letter that he received shortly before the alleged attack in January. And President Trump said on Twitter Thursday that the FBI and Department of Justice will investigate what happened with the dropping of charges.
Emanuel has even threatened to sue Smollett to recoup the cost of the time spent investigating the case, while an attorney for Smollett said Wednesday that the actor is keeping options open in regards to possibly filing a suit himself, per The Inquisitr.
The saga began at the end of January when Smollett claimed that he had been assaulted by two men on the streets of Chicago, who yelled racist and anti-gay slurs at him. Smollett filed a police report and police began investigating, although doubts began to gather over whether Smollett’s story was true. Once two men who knew the actor told police that they had helped him stage the attack, the investigation shifted and Smollett was charged.
The actor has maintained throughout the process, including to the media after his court appearance, that he has been truthful and consistent all along.