After the scandal earlier this year that all but eliminated Jussie Smollett from the cast of the series Empire, there is hope that he could be returning for the show during its final season, which is underway.
During the ensuing backlash, show creator Lee Daniels confirmed that Smollett would not be returning to the Fox series for its sixth and final season. However, it now appears the actor could be making one last appearance with his cast mates, according to PEOPLE.
“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,” said showrunner Brett Mahoney. “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.”
Smollett, 37, was axed from the drama during season five after he told authorities that he had been attacked on a Chicago street in the early hours of Jan. 29 in below freezing temperatures, by two men hurling racist and homophobic rhetoric at him. He was then accused of fabricating the accusation and charged with making a false police report.
But Smollett has consistently maintained that his account was true, even in the face of wide criticism. He clapped back in October against social media personality Derrick Jackson when he compared Virginia teen Amari Allen, who admitted her dreadlocks had not been cut by white attackers, to Smollett’s case.
“With all due respect brother, y’all can clown me all you want but my story has actually never changed and I haven’t lied about a thing,” Smollett said in response. “Y’all can continue to be misinformed, internalized sheep, who believe what actual proven liars feed you or you can read the actual docs. Either way, I’mma be alright.”
But the incident still raised eyebrows and many remained unconvinced that Smollett was, in fact, attacked.
“Of course, there’s some doubt,” Daniels told Vulture at the time. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, ‘Please God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story.’ That’s why it’s so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
Smollett was indicted with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after an investigation turned up no evidence that he had been attacked. Chicago police accused him of staging the entire thing in order to promote his career. Two Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, alleged that Smollett paid them to carry out the attack.
However, in March, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx announced all charges were being dropped against the actor. The legal wrangling continued as the City of Chicago sued Smollett for $130,000 in investigation costs. In turn, he sued the city for malicious prosecution, which officials now want courts to drop, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Meanwhile, Empire is set to return for its final episodes in Spring 2020.