‘Empire’ Showrunner Hints at Jussie Smollett Returning: ‘Weird’ to End It Without Him

Jussie Smollett and Terrence Howard in "Empire."

Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney has hinted at a possible return for disgraced actor Jussie Smollett in the Fox drama’s finale, arguing it would be “weird to end the show without him.”

The 37-year-old actor, who played Jamal Lyon in the Fox drama, was removed from the series earlier this year after orchestrating a hoax “hate crime” against himself — amid reports that he had become “dissatisfied” with his $1 million a year salary.

Chicago attorneys originally intended to prosecute the case, but the charges were dropped in March in exchange for serving 16 hours of community and forfeiting his $10,000 bail.

The stunt has put a hold on Smollett’s acting career, as he was written off the show and has not picked up any roles since his scheme was exposed. Soon after, Empire‘s producers decided to conclude the show at the end of its sixth season. However, Mahoney has now confirmed that the actor’s return is “being discussed” among producers.

“It would be weird in my mind to end this family show and this family drama of which he was such a significant part of without seeing him,” he told TVLine. “It’s fair to say it’s being discussed, but there’s no plan as of yet to bring him back. There’s been no decision made.”

Bringing Smollett back would contradict the position of Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, who dismissed reports of his return back in June.

‘This is not factual,” he said at the time. “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”

In October, a federal judge allowed a lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against Smollett to proceed. The suit seeks to recoup the $130,000 that the city says the police department spent investigating Smollett’s false claims.


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