Will Jussie Smollet Return to ‘Empire?’

The Jussie Smollett scandal just keeps getting weirder and weirder. What was first classified as a heinous hate crime is turning out to be an attack that Smollett orchestrated himself – at least that’s how it’s looking.

The Empire star was arrested by Chicago police and released on $100,000 bail. He also had his passport taken away… just in case. As with anyone accused of a crime in the United States, Smollett is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett | FOX via Getty Images

What is Jussie Smollett accused of?

It all started in the late hours of January 29, 2019. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, claims he was attacked by two men wearing red hats and shouting racist slurs. They allegedly put a noose around his neck and poured some kind of liquid chemical on him.

Celebrities and politicians alike were quick to jump to Smollett’s defense, calling the act a “modern-day lynching.” The Chicago police department spent hundreds of hours poring over security footage and other leads so they could piece together what happened.

But the truth isn’t looking so great for Smollett. The two brothers who attacked him, Ola and Abel Osundairo, claim that the 36-year-old actor paid them $3,500 to stage a fake attack so he could receive a salary raise. Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence.

Now Smollett faces felony charges of disorderly conduct and filing a fake police report. He could be facing up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he returns to court in March.

Will Jussie Smollett return to ‘Empire’?

Jussie Smollett
Bryshere Gray and Jussie Smollett | FOX via Getty Images

The pending litigation make things very awkward for network execs at Fox, where the show Empire is filmed. For one thing, ratings have been dropping for a while now, and the show has yet to be renewed for a sixth season.

Jussie Smollett plays Jamal Lyon on the show, the gay son in the hip-hop family that the show centers on. Earlier in the week, Fox put out a statement calling Smollett a “consummate professional” who wouldn’t be written off the show despite the drama. But after his arrest, their reaction was a little different.

“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process,” Fox said in a statement after the arrest. “We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Smollett went back to work after being arrested

Weirdly, Smollett was back on set and ready to work on Thursday afternoon even after being arrested in the early morning hours. But perhaps this isn’t strange behavior for someone who still maintains innocence. No doubt Smollett’s presence was uncomfortable for co-workers who aren’t sure what to believe.

If Smollett gets convicted, he may not be able to return to Empire because he’ll be too busy serving a jail sentence. But even if he gets out on probation, he still might be out of a job. ABC cancelled Roseanne last year after she wrote a racist tweet. House of Cards star Kevin Spacey got written off the show following sexual abuse allegations. Main character or not – they knew they couldn’t keep him on. The show was canceled shortly after.

What’s next for Smollett? A whole lot of drama and possibly a jail sentence. Yikes.