‘Empire’ cast and crew reflect on Jussie Smollet’s absence on the final season of the show

Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his court appearance on March 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The first episode of the final season of Empire premiered on Tuesday and it seems like the cast and crew are finding the ending of the series to be bittersweet, especially because of the absence of one of the show’s main stars, Jussie Smollett in the new season.

The last season of the Fox show is set to answer a lot of questions fans have been searching for since the show’s debut, but it looks like they will not get the proper closure with Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon. This fact is not only hard for the fans to accept, but it’s also hard for the show’s cast and crew, Yahoo reports.

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“I think emotionally, it’s tough on everyone,” co-creator of Empire, Danny Strong, said an interview with The Wrap. “I think it’s really disappointing for the writing staff in particular, they love Jussie and they wish he was on the show. And I think the cast feel the same way. I think there is a great deal of affection for him and it is disappointing not having him there.”

Smollett has had a troubling year ever since reports circulated that he said he was a victim of a racist, homophobic attack that took place in Chicago in January. Chicago police claimed that the actor staged the incident and even attempted to indict Smollett, but the charges were dropped. 

As a result of all the controversy, he was written off of Empire as “taking a sabbatical from the family.”

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“He was a key component to the success and warmth of the show,” Strong continued. “To only mention in passing someone beloved by the family and audience is a difficult hurdle. Yet loss is half of the life principle and we have to keep moving forward or we cease to exist. I know that the show would never have had the success that we enjoyed without his character.” 

Although Smollett will be missed, the site reveals that fans can expect to see some old faces they might of missed on the show to help bring in closure.

Want to find out how the story of the Lyon family ends? Catch Empire on Fox every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET