After Empire decided to cut actor Jussie Smollett from the remaining episodes of season 5 amid his real-life legal issues, many have been wondering what will happen to the actor and his character on the series going forward.
Empire executive producer Brett Mahoney told Entertainment Weekly, “It was a very difficult decision, but I think in terms of allowing the cast and the crew to really get the work done without a great deal of disruption in terms of the day-to-day and the stress of the day-to-day, and, in addition, allowing Jussie the time to really deal with what he’s been confronted with and allow him the time to focus and prepare his case, this seems like the logical decision to make.”
Back in February, Smollett was arrested on charges of filing a false police report after he claimed that he had been the victim of a hate crime in which two men yelled racial and homphobic slurs at him as they dumped bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck.
After an investigation, Chicago Police accused Smollett of paying the two men $3500 to stage the attack, however details are once again getting blurred.
For right now, Smollett’s future on Empire depends on how things unfold in the legal system.
“It’s a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from there. And it’s too early to think about what we would have to do if we didn’t have Jussie. We have such a strong ensemble and we have so many stories to tell for all of these fascinating characters that it’s bigger than one character, but it’s too early to think about the show without him,” he said.
Empire returns for the remainder of season five on Wednesday, March 13, and despite rumors, Mahoney said he doesn’t think the show is in jeopardy of cancellation due to Smollett’s legal problems.
“I know that the network and studio is really happy with what we’ve done creatively this season. I’m not surprised that we don’t necessarily have a pick up at this point as I think last season we waited until May,” he said. “All the indications I have are that we will be. And we do have so many of these stories to tell, so I can’t imagine we won’t be able to tell them.”
Empire airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on Fox.