Jussie Smollett ‘will not be returning’ to Fox drama, series creator says
CHICAGO — After a series of head-spinning legal woes, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett is not returning to the Fox drama for its sixth and final season.
The news came from the series creator, Lee Daniels, who shot down a media report that implied Smollett would return for the sixth season of the show.
“This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” Daniels said in a tweet to Variety after it reported an “exclusive” headlined “‘Empire’ writers prepping for Jussie Smollett’s return in Season 6.”
The drama starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard will end after the sixth season.
Smollett was written out of the final episodes of the show’s fifth season following allegations he faked a hate crime against himself in January. But while the studio did not include him in the series, it had left open the possibility of his return to the show he’s been a part of since 2015.
In April, Daniels had said Smollett’s fate was still being considered. “There are only two judges — God and that man that wears a robe. And I cannot judge. I can only have compassion,” he said at the time.
Smollett was charged with multiple felony counts after allegedly duping the Chicago police into believing he had been the target of a hate crime in January.
Prosecutors later dropped the charges against him, a decision that outraged the mayor and the police chief. The city demanded that he pay back the more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.
An Illinois judge also ordered authorities to unseal his criminal case file last month, with some of the documents released shortly after.
Smollett denied the allegations and his attorneys have said the actor will not be intimidated into paying the city.
The show is filmed in Chicago, and the legal issues between Smollett and city officials as well as insurance concerns were “causing a dilemma,” Daniels said in April.