Jussie Smollett has been removed from the final episodes of Empire following his arrest on Thursday (21 February).
The American actor – who plays Jamal Lyons on the critically-acclaimed Fox series – was taken in custody for filing a false police report, in which he claimed that he was a victim of a homophobic assault.
He said two attackers placed a noose around his neck, began to punch him and poured an unknown substance over him, and said they yelled, “This is MAGA country,” referring to the Make America Great Again acronym often used by President Trump.
It later came about that Smollett paid the attackers – one of which was his personal trainer – to orchestrate the assault because he was unhappy with his salary on Empire and wanted to promote his career.
Chicago Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson said: “Bogus police reports cause real harm.
“I am offended by what’s happened and I’m also angry. As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on his [Smollett’s] face were most likely self-inflicted.”
Empire executives Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer have now stated that Smollett’s scenes have been removed the character of Jamal from the last two episodes of the season.
They said: “The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply.
“While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.
“We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
Empire returns to Fox in the US on 13 March.