Lee Daniels has denied a report making rounds that Jussie Smollett will return to Empire.
The report was published by Variety which claimed that the show’s staff expects Smollett to be featured in the second half of the sixth and final season, as writers are already brainstorming his reintroduction. The 36-year-old actor was initially written out of the final episodes of season 5, after he was accused of orchestrating his own hate crime in January of this year.
Shortly after, the crew of the show wrote in a letter obtained by Deadline, saying, “Together, as a united front, we stand with Jussie Smollett and ask that our co-star, brother and friend be brought back for our sixth season of Empire…Throughout Empire’s five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie’s personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped.”
But Lee Daniels has said Smollett will not be returning to the show.
“Jussie [Smollett] will NOT be returning to ‘Empire,'” Daniels said in a statement published by Complex.