TV & Movies

Lee Daniels Says Jussie Smollet Will Not Be Back on Empire Despite 'Not Factual' Reports

Lee Daniels is setting the record straight.

Daniels spoke out about Jussie Smollett’s future on Empire on Tuesday, confirming that the actor will not appear in the sixth and final season.

Responding to an article claiming Empire writers were “prepping” for Smollett’s return, Daniels tweeted, “This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”

In April, Fox announced that it has “no plans” for Jussie Smollett‘s character to return. The news comes three months after Smollett alleged he was the victim of a hate crime (and police accused him of staging the attack himself).

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV said, “By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett’s option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire.

Following the news, a rep for Smollett told The Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve been told Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal’s future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support.”

Smollett starred as Jamal Lyon on the show since it premiered in 2015.

The network later announced that the new season premiering this fall will be the last.

In March, Smollett, 36, was indicted with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming two men attacked him in an apparent hate crime in Chicago in January.

The actor, who faced intense scrutiny and backlash, had pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident to draw attention to himself. At the end of March, all charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has not, however, fully retreated from its initial decision to bring charges against him or otherwise addressed whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying they “stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”

Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to PEOPLE after the charges were dropped, saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” the statement continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. This is wrong. It is a reminder that the victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”

In April, Smollett was sued by the City of Chicago after it allegedly spent more than $130,000 “in overtime costs to investigate” his alleged attack, according to the lawsuit. Smollett’s attorney did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.


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