Jussie Smollett to Return to New Season of ‘Empire,’ Says Co-star

April 4, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019

Empire” actress Taraji P. Henson confirmed in a television appearance on April 4 that controversial co-star Jussie Smollett will be returning to the new season of the show.

Henson was on ABC’s “The View” talking about her new movie and the future of “Empire,” when one of the hosts asked her whether Smollett would be returning to the new season.

“Yes. I haven’t heard anything else,” Henson replied promptly.

Smollett was cut from the final episodes of the show’s fifth season in mid-February after the actor was arrested on suspicion of faking a hate crime. At the time, the show’s executive producers released a statement explaining their decision to remove Smollett’s character from the last two episodes.

“While these allegations are very disturbing, 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,” the statement read.

Henson said “Empire” is currently on hiatus while the show’s writers are deciding on what direction it will take. Fox Studios has not confirmed whether the show has received a greenlight for another season.

She also said that she has been regularly talking to Smollett and that the actor is “doing well.”

Prosecutors announced on March 26 that 16 felony counts filed against Smollett for filing a false police report were dropped because the actor completed 16 hours of community service and forfeited his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.

Joe Magats, the assistant state attorney who made the decision, told the New York Times that they did not exonerate Smollett. Instead, he said the decision was made in exchange for the actor completing community service and forfeiting his bond.

“Here’s the thing—we work to prioritize violent crime and the drivers of violent crime. Public safety is our number one priority. I don’t see Jussie Smollett as a threat to public safety,” Magats said.

“We stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him and we stand behind the charges in the case. The mere fact that it was disposed of in an alternative manner does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities in the case or the evidence,” he added.

The decision to drop the charges has infurirated Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city’s police, with Emanuel calling it a “whitewash of justice.”

“There is no accountability. It is wrong, full stop,” Emanuel said.

Jussie Smollett and attorney Patricia Brown
Actor Jussie Smollett, right, listens as his attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after prosecutors dropped all charges against him on March 26, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Last week, the city ordered Smollett to pay $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation. In a letter to the actor, officials said the amount they are requesting covered overtime worked by more than two dozen detectives and officers who spent weeks looking into Smollett’s claim, including reviewing video and physical evidence and conducting interviews.

The actor has continued to maintain his innocence, saying that the attack was real.

Investigators believe Smollett, who is black and gay, hired two Nigerian brothers to stage the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago. The brothers said Smollett hoped the attention would help advance his career. Police also allege that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter threatening himself to the Chicago television studio where “Empire” is filmed.

The FBI is still investigating the letter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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