Jussie Smollett Back on ‘Empire’ Set After Arrest

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images
JOSHUA CAPLAN

Actor-singer Jussie Smollett on Thursday returned to the set of Empire in Chicago after turning himself into the police for filing a false report with law enforcement, according to a report.

Smollett was slated to film throughout this week on Empire, however, his role was slashed in the wake of reports that he staged a racist and homophobic attack on himself in Chicago last month, reports Variety.

Earlier Thursday, Smollett was released from jail after posting bond at $100,000. Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. described the allegations against the actor as  “violent, despicable,” and expressed outrage over the actor’s use of a noose in the allegedly staged assault. Jack Prior, an attorney for Smollett, told the judge that his client believes the allegations against him are “outrageous” and denies their veracity.

The actor was mobbed by local media as he made his way to a waiting SUV. He did not speak to reporters upon exiting the court.

The studio behind the hit television show Empire said Thursday afternoon that it is “evaluating the situation” regarding the charges against the actor and is “considering our options.”

20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued a statement saying, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Earlier this week, the studios batted away reports that Smollett’s role on the program would be dramatically cut. “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” said 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment.

Smollett, who is gay and African-American, told law enforcement that two masked individuals physically attacked him and spewed racist and homophobic insults at him as he walked home from a sandwich shop on January 29. He also claimed to police that his attackers doused him with an unknown chemical substance, looped a thin rope around his neck, and shouted “This is MAGA country!” before fleeing.

Prosecutors said Smollett gave detailed instructions to two brothers who helped him in a staged attack against himself and paid them $3,500 by check. Risa Lanier, the Assistant State’s Attorney, said at a press briefing that the actor directed brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo to help stage the attack in front of a specific surveillance camera.

In a press conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett staged the attack after a threatening letter he sent himself on the set of Empire the week prior did not garner a larger reaction.

“Mr. Smollett is the one that orchestrated this crime,” Johnson told reporters, adding that “he has to be accountable for what he did.”

“He took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” he added. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

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