Previously, it was announced that executives for Fox drama series Empire had decided to cut out Jussie Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, of the season’s final two episodes amid allegations that the actor’s hate-crime attack in Chicago was staged. Now, multiple reports suggest that Smollett’s character may be recast altogether as Fox decides how to move forward with the character, who is a central piece to the series’ plot.
TV Line reports that the shows co-creator, Lee Daniels, is “a strong proponent of the recast option” should Empire return for a sixth season. TMZ adds that Smollett’s alleged decision to stage the hate crime may have been stemmed from a real attack suffered by Daniels’ gay cousin in January.
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This past week my cousin was beat up for being gay and I am sick of hearing these stories. It’s the beginning of a new year and we need to do better. We need to continue to remember to love and to turn against the hate that we’re seeing out there. But we all need to fight that fight together. For all the people who are hurting, who are struggling, and who are trying to find some meaning in this life, I am here to say if you need a safe place or a ear to listen, then I’m here. I’m listening to what you’re saying and what you’re going through. I am standing up for you and will continue to fight for you. This is my mission and message to you for the beginning of 2019. If you are struggling check out the link in my bio and please go to @glaad @humanrightscampaign @trevorproject 💙💙
Friday, Daniels along with producers Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer decided that leaving Smollett out of the two final episodes of season five was the best course of action as the case is investigated.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” read the group’s statement. “We are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. 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.”