Empire actor Jussie Smollett will no longer co-star in the Broadway revival of the play Take Me Out amid lingering charges that the performer staged a hate crime against himself, according to a report.
Jussie Smollett delivered a reading of the 2003 Tony-winning play in New York City 12 hours prior to allegedly faking a racist and anti-gay attack in downtown Chicago. The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that the 36-year-old California native has since been “cut” from the play, citing the controversy surrounding the January 29th ordeal. “Everything was set to go and the producers were planning to announce that Jussie and Zachary Quinto were starring in the play last month,” a Broadway insider told the Mail, adding, “Everyone was so supportive after the attack and then suddenly, everything shifted.”
The British newspaper, citing a source with ties to Take Me Out, reports people involved with the upcoming production are in “shock” over the controversy surrounding Smollett. “Here is a kid who is on a hit television show, has made a name for himself, and gets the chance of a lifetime,” the unnamed source reportedly said. “He would have come off the sixth season of Empire and kicked off the next leg of his career with a role on Broadway. And not just that, the lead role in one of the best plays of the century in his Broadway debut.”
“Why on earth would someone throw that all away,” the source added.
Take Me Out, which won three Tony Awards in 2003, including Best Play and Best Director, is scheduled to open in April 2020. While Smollett will no longer appear in the play, Empire actress Taraji P. Henson has said Jussie will return to the Fox Entertainment program next season despite the ordeal.
Smollett, who is African-American and gay, maintains he told the truth in claiming that two masked men assaulted him, shouting slurs and wrapping a rope around his neck. He told police that his attackers also shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign slogan, before fleeing the area.
Last month, Cook County prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts against the actor, stating that while the charges were provable, the case was not worth the resources that would be needed. The decision infuriated Chicago Police Department chief Eddie Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who refered it a “whitewash of justice”
Earlier April, Chicago filed a civil lawsuit against Smollett for refusing to repay roughly $130,000 that the Chicago Police Department spent on probing his purported attack.