Jussie Smollet will not be returning to Empire as confirmed by the show’s network CEO. Fox Entertainment chief Charlie Collier says the sixth and final season will address the embattled actor’s absence.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Collier said that the network has “no plans” of letting the Smollett return to the show despite getting his contract renewed.
The Fox exec says the announcement of Smollett’s contract renewal was made along with the final season renewal as the network was still gathering “all the information” at the time. The decision to cut him off the show ultimately reflect show creator Lee Daniels’ previous comments. Daniels was initially very vocal for his support of Smollett when news broke that the actor was the victim of a hate crime. He then said that he was “beyond embarrassed” in expressing support for Smollett after reports surface that the actor potentially orchestrated the crime himself.
So where will Smollett’s Jamal Lyon end up in the show’s finale? “He’s on his honeymoon!” Collier told media following the panel. “Lee has spoken a lot about the situation and the story will reflect it, but…you’ll see pictures of him in the background. He’s on his honeymoon in the storyline…”
Collier also discussed the future of Empire after the final season airs. Fans have speculated that the show’s success might pave the way to a spin-off.”We’re in the Lee Daniels business, we’re in the Danny Strong business, if there’s more story to tell, we want to hear it,” the exec said.