Despite speculation about a possible return by Jussie Smollett for the sixth and final season of Empire, the actor’s comeback isn’t happening, according to series co-creator Lee Daniels.
“Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” Daniels tweeted Tuesday afternoon following reports that the embattled actor’s character Jamal Lyon was being re-worked into the hit Fox series.
One well-place source told Deadline today that Smollett’s ongoing legal issues are partly to blame for him remaining on the sidelines.
“There are still too many unknowns about what really occurred, why the charges were suddenly dropped and the effect it all has had on Empire for the network or the producers to feel Jussie can slip back into the show,” an individual close to the situation said.
Smollett, who has played Jamal since the music drama debuted in 2015, was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 following his alleged hate crime attack in Chicago in January.
The actor claimed he was beaten up by two men wearing “MAGA” hats, who shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him. But police said not so fast, and accused the actor of staging the entire attack.
Cook County prosecutors charged the actor with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. Smollett maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty. In a surprise move on March 26, the state’s attorney’s office suddenly dropped the charges after Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform community service.
The city is now suing him in civil court to recover more than $130,000 it allegedly spent in police overtime hours investigating the case.
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