If you thought there might be a chance of Jussie Smollett returning to Lee Daniels’ “Empire,” those days are are over. The director spoke out about accusations that Smollett staged a hoax and he held nothing back.
In an interview with Vulture, Daniels was asked if he was embarrassed that he public supported Jussie Smollett, “I’m beyond embarrassed. I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten.”
He said that he would have never suspected Smollett to allegedly stage a hate crime and when asked if he believes there is doubt, Daniels explained, “Of course, there’s some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
He also said, “We weren’t there. I can’t judge him. That’s only for the fucking lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling him, because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”
Smollett’s career has taken a serious below. He is no longer being considered to play the lead role in the Broadway revival of “Take Me Out,” which is about a mixed-race baseball player. The role went to Jesse Williams. Considering what Daniels said, it appears Jussie may never return to “Empire.” He also wrote in a June 4 tweet, “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
On Jan. 29, while walking to a subway, Smollett claimed two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, investigators told The Hollywood Reporter. They allegedly punched and poured bleach on him while one of the suspects put a rope around his neck. As they fled the scene, Smollett told police they said, “This is MAGA country.”
Smollett has maintained his innocence and all 16 felony counts against him were dropped.