TMZ caught up to Lee Daniels to confront him with a frequently asked question – whether or not Jussie Smollett will remain on Empire.
When asked if there was still a place for Smollett on the show, Daniels’ answer was short – though he did give one.
“That’s the conversation we’re having right now.”
Daniels did not go into further detail but was less tight-lipped when questioned about whether he felt scammed by Smollett.
“I feel like there are two judges: God and that man in the robe. So I can’t judge.”
Daniels promised the Fox drama had a “bombastic” season ahead and was asked how the cast and crew of the Fox drama were holding up in the midst of Smollett’s scandal, answering that they would pray.
According to People, in a Tuesday interview with Extra, Daniels was also asked how the show’s cast was doing a month after charges against the Smollett for allegedly staging a hate crime were dropped.
He said the cast was upset and that they were gradually healing during what was a “sad” time for them. He added that “the lesson is still to be learned” from the situation, and he had decided not to judge the actor.
“What I am learning right now is that I can’t judge. That judgement is for that man wearing that black coat with a gavel and God. I can only support him because he is like my son, he is my son, so I am with him.”
He said that he would only give Smollett, who stars as Jamal Lyon on the series, his support and compassion.
Lee Daniels Says Jussie Smollett's 'Empire' Fate Being Discussed Now https://t.co/0QMsIQzoio— TMZ (@TMZ) April 23, 2019
On January 29, the actor claimed he was attacked in downtown Chicago around 2 a.m. by two men wearing masks and yelling racist and homophobic slurs and then poured an unknown liquid substance on him and put a rope around his neck.
After an investigation into Smollett, he was arrested February 20 and indicted on 16 counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports. Facing intense scrutiny and backlash from the public and the press, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Police accused him of paying two men $3,500 to set up a false crime against himself because he was dissatisfied with his Empire salary.
All charges were dropped against Smollett in March. He maintained that he told the truth about the details of the attack and had been victimized in a rush to judgment by the Chicago Police Department and the media.