Lee Daniels Gets Real About Jussie Smollett's Case & His Future On 'Empire'

By Peyton Blakemore

April 24, 2019

Jussie Smollett's future on Empire is definitely up in the air, according to the Fox show's creator, executive producer, and director Lee Daniels.

While stopping by "The Breakfast Club" on Tuesday (April 23), Lee did not confirm nor deny if Jussie, who he called a "son," will be returning for the show's sixth season, however, he did call the fallout from Jussie's alleged staged hate crime traumatizing.

"We're in talks to figure out what we're going to do with the show," Lee admitted when asked about the rumors that he has plans to kick Jussie off the show. "It's real. It's traumatic. It has traumatized the show. It has traumatized the actors. It's very painful to talk about even now. I think we're still living it and we're trying to figure it out."

As fans know, Jussie was accused of staging a January hate crime against himself for attention and monetary gain. While he was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for the alleged lie, the 34-year-old Empire star was cleared of all charges in connection to the case in March.

As for Lee's thoughts on Jussie's now closed case, the director said he cannot and will not judge, and only has "compassion" in regards to the situation. "My thoughts are inconsequential," Lee added.

"I'm standing by him because regardless of the outcome I can't discard someone," he explained. "It [would be like] discarding my son."

When asked if he believes Jussie's version of events, Lee took a long pause before responding, "I think again my thoughts are inconsequential. He is my son. When I say it, I stand by it."

As for the future of Empire, well, Lee said he has no plans on letting Jussie's situation get in the way of an epic new season. In fact, he's planning to bring Empire back bigger and better. "The future of Empire is going to be bombastic," Lee said confidently. "This Jussie situation took us at a lightening, so they are depending on me to come up with something... they're looking at me like 'Lee what you gon' do?' And I'm like 'I'm gon' f**k everybody up.' It's time for me to get back to roots [...] It's time for me to do something that's completely unexpected that will f**k ni**as up, that's gonna say 'Okay, Daniels is back at the helm.'"

Charlamagne tha God then asked if that meant killing Jussie's character off, which Lee coyly replied: "I told you, that's a secret."

Photo: Getty Images


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