Producers are considering recasting Jussie Smollett’s Empire character with another actor, reports TV Line.
“Jussie Smollett‘s potentially permanent Empire ouster may not mark the end of the road for his character, Jamal Lyon. TVLine has learned that among the options producers are considering is bringing in a new actor to take over the role in Season 6.”
Switching out actors in a specific role is not unheard of in television. Most famously, there was Elizabeth Montgomery’s husband in the sitcom Bewitched; a smooth transition from Dick York in season five to Dick Sargent in season six. More recently, there have been actor switcheroos on Game of Thrones, Roseanne, Arrested Development, and Last Man Standing, among others.
Sometimes the actor gets tired of the role.
Sometimes the actor is not quite right for the role.
Sometimes the actor is hard to get along with.
Sometimes the actor writes a check to two black guys to beat him up so he can blame it on white Trump supporters knowing the national media will not ask any questions and run wild with it.
It seems to me, Fox could easily replace Smollett and should. It would be awkward to write the character out, especially if the studio decides there is no way to bring Jussie Smollett back in any capacity, even to wrap up his character’s story — have him die in a car accident or move to China, or something. On the other hand, the character of Jamal Lyon is central to the series and his abrupt departure could damage the series, so…
Better to find someone else to step into the role, another talented young man, but one who, you know, is not a lying, hate-crime hoaxer willing to start riots if it means a little attention.
Regardless of what happens to the character of Jamal Lyon, Jussie Smollett’s career is almost certainly over. He has already been cut out of the final two episodes of Empire and as the show enters its hiatus, Smollett is facing all kinds of legal jeopardy, including prison time for filing a false police report.
And let’s not forget the possibility of federal mail fraud charges over a piece of hate mail police say Smollett mailed to himself.
At this point, no one can see a way out for Smollett. Public relations experts, people who deal with the worst scandals imaginable, see no daylight.
“I’ve worked on really high-profile crisis issues. I don’t think anybody’s had to work on something like this,” PR expert Ronn Torossian told ABC News. “I think his career as we know it is over… This isn’t just a hoax. This is about a hoax that touches upon race, sex, and politics.”
“I would say that the moral crime committed there and the ramifications it might have on multiple communities is far greater than the potential legal ramifications that he might face,” PR crisis specialist Vlad Drazdovich said, adding, “the damage of unraveling the collective trust of people, millions of people … it might linger for years to come and it may continue longer than the one to three year sentence that he may have to serve.”
“[W]e always encourage our clients to tell the truth because nothing disinfects like sunlight. [Smollett] has had several opportunities to sort of come clean and retract his statements and admit that he lied –- if he in fact lied –- but instead he decided to double down,” he added.
Well, at this point, Smollett has no choice but to continue to claim he’s innocent. The kind of heartfelt confession that might salvage his career could also put him in a jail cell.