Empire showrunner explains how they are dealing with Jussie Smollett fallout


Empire was hit with a huge speedbump when one of their biggest stars in Jussie Smollett was hit with criminal charges.

To catch people up to date, Smollett filed police charges alleging he was attacked by two men in ski masks, something labeled a hate crime. Smollett also said the attackers said “this is MAGA country” in the attack.

However, the police investigated the case and eventually charged Smollett with criminal charges. The charges were a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. He ended up indicted on 16 felony counts.

As a result, producers removed Smollett from the final two episodes of the season of Empire. Smollett had a huge role as Jamal Lyon, the son of Terrence Howard’s Lucious and Tajiri P. Henson’s Cookie.

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With that said, he has people within the production of the show who defended him. Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney was one of the people who stood up for Smollett and stood by the actor in the start but then agreed that they should remove him just a week later when more evidence mounted.

Mahoney spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the Jussie Smollett incident and the fallout affecting his FX show.

"“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” Mahoney said. “You have someone in your family who’s going through this, while at the same time, we’re shooting the final episodes of the season, which are also just heightened emotionally.”"

Mahoney also said that the entire cast and crew just worked hard to finish the season strong, while working around story changes needed with Smollett not shooting on the show anymore.

As for Jussie Smollett, Mahoney said that they will allow the legal system to play out and when they see where it leads, they will make their final decision at that time.

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He did say not to worry because if they do have to move on from Smollett, there are a lot of strong characters on the show that have stories to tell.

Empire returns tonight with the second half of season 5. It airs at 8 p.m. EST on Fox.