BREAKING: Jussie Smollett removed from this season’s final episodes of ‘Empire’

The actor, who is maintaining his innocence, will not appear on the final two episodes of the show, although he did return to the set after being charged

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Jussie Smollett, the embattled actor who was charged Thursday with falsifying a hate crime attack after plotting to deceive law enforcement has now reportedly been at least partially removed from his role on the television show “Empire.”

According to Variety, in the wake of Smollett’s arrest, producers of the Fox series have decided to film the final two episodes of Season 5 without him.

 

READ MORE: Jussie Smollett pleads innocent to ‘Empire’ castmates, legal team releases statement

“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” series executives Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer explained in a statement released Friday.

“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”

Empire, now in its fifth season, has nine episodes left to air. The final two episodes have not yet completed shooting, according to the Associated Press

Previously, Fox has shown unwavering support for the actor and issued several statements referring to him as a “consummate professional” during his time on the show. However, as details of the case emerge, and the confusion lingers about what is fact versus fiction, the tone of their messaging has shifted and become more cautious.

Early Thursday morning Smollett surrendered to authorities and was charged with filing a false police report and disorderly conduct.

Following the highly publicized arrest, the network said they were “evaluating the situation” and “considering [their] options.” Whether or not the 36 year old will return to the show if it gets picked up for a sixth season appears to be up in the air.

READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Surrenders to Police: Charged with felony for filing false police report

Shortly after he made the $100,000 bond imposed on him, Smollett showed up to the set of ‘Empire’, which films in Chicago and reportedly made an emotional apology to his fellow cast members, while remaining steadfast about his innocence.

“I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls,” he said addressing everyone on the set, TMZ reported. “I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”  He then left the set, according to the report.

Meanwhile, his legal team released as statement on social media, calling him “a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence.”

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