Empire may not be featuring Jussie Smollett on its final season, but fans cannot say the same for the site of his alleged attack. Production on the sixth and final season of the Fox musical family drama is officially underway, and cameras caught crew members setting up a scene at the site where the actor alleged he was attacked by two men, throwing racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Photos released by TMZ show the set being built in the "shadow" of Smollett's apartment building. There have been no comments on whether the series has plans to incorporate some of the actor's real life controversy into the final season's storyline.
'Empire' Shoots Scene Where Jussie Smollett Was Allegedly Attacked https://t.co/fxdMSzHLRD— TMZ (@TMZ) August 13, 2019
Smollett was eventually charged with giving a false police report and accused of lying about the attack, which took place earlier this year. The controversy led to him being written out of the last two episodes of Empire's fifth season, despite the charged being ultimately dropped.
The actor has denied all wrongdoing on the case to this day.
When Empire was initially renewed for Season 6, later announcing it would be the show's last, Smollett's contract had been extended for 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 behind the show said in a statement at the time.
Smollett's rep confirmed the extension, though at the time the question of the actor's return seemed to be up in the air.
"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 in May.
"This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire," show co-creator Daniels wrote on Twitter in June, responding to a tweet from Variety claiming Smollett would be returning in the second half of the season.
The show said goodbye to Jamal, seemingly for good, after showing the singer's star-studded wedding to his love interest Kai (Toby Onwumere), the actor went off on his honeymoon and missed the drama of the end of the season.
Empire will return for Season 6 Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.