Jussie Smollett's return to the final season of Empire is possibly happening.
After series producers announced the actor would not be returning to the early episodes of Season 6, a new report suggests the writers are crafting the actor's return to the show after being written off in Season 5 due to his legal troubles.
Variety reports the show's writers are currently breaking ideas for the Fox show's final season with the expectation Smollett will appear in the back half of the 18-episode season.
Smollett was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 following intense backlash coming from the actor being accused of faking a hate crime in Chicago earlier this year.
Sources speaking to the outlet said tensions were "ratcheted up" on set between the show's mostly African American main cast, who still believe Smollett is innocent, and the mostly white crew, many who believe Smollett is guilty.
The outlet writes the hope is that tensions will be eased while the show is on break and while Smollett remains off the show.
The new development on the heels of the show's main cast members — Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bryshere Y. Gray, Trai Byers, Gabourey Sidibe, and Nicole Ari Parker — writing an open letter to the show's producers about bringing Smollett back to the show.
"We understand the past months have been difficult to process — sometimes the headlines brought more confusion than clarity, yet we now have a conclusion to this ordeal," the cast wrote in the letter, released by The Hollywood Reporter. "Throughout Empire's five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie's personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer's assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed."
After the show was renewed for Season 6, Fox announced Smollett's contract had been extended though there were no plans for him to return early in the season.
"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for Season 6, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire," the studio said in a statement, not giving their reasons for the decision.
Smollett's rep confirmed the news, adding the actor will not be returning for the first episodes of Season 6.0comments
"We've been told that 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," the actor's spokesperson told press in a statement.