Jussie Smollet: 'Empire' Creator Lee Daniels Vents About 'Pain and Anger' in Wake of Star's Alleged Hoax
Lee Daniels is opening up about the impact the Jussie Smollett scandal has had on Empire.The Fox [...]
Lee Daniels is opening up about the impact the Jussie Smollett scandal has had on Empire.
The Fox drama series' executive producer and co-creator took to social media Wednesday, just a few hours before the premiere of a new episode, to discuss the "freakin' rollercoaster" resulting from Smollet's involvement in an alleged staged hate crime.
"These past couple of weeks have been a freakin' rollercoaster," Daniels, who also created spinoff series Star, said.
"We have, me and my cast have experienced pain and anger and sadness and frustration and really don't know how to deal with it," Daniels added, looking visibly affected by the "incident" that could see Smollett facing up to three years behind bars and tens of thousands in fines for disorderly conduct charges.
"This is not what the show was made for," the Oscar-nominated director continued, commenting on how talks of the controversy have overshadowed all discussion of Empire, which returned for the second half of its fifth season on March 13.
"The show was made bring America together, to talk about the atrocities happening right now in the streets," Daniels declared in the video.
The new statement from Daniels is basically the opposite of his previous public statements on the incident, which the filmmaker made on Instagram the day Smollett was first attacked.
"You didn't deserve, nor anyone deserves, to have a noose put around your neck, to have bleach thrown on you, to be called die f—, n— or whatever they said to you," Daniels said on social media on Jan. 29 to Smollett, whose character Jamal Lyon is based on Daniels himself in many ways.
"Hold your head up Jussie," Daniels added at the time. "I'm with you. I'll be there in a minute, because it's just another f—ing day in America."
After police indicted Smollett for allegedly staging the attack, Daniels and the other executive producers of the series announced that they would be writing Smollett's character off the show for the last two episodes of Season 5 to avoid further disruption to filming.
"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," the announcement read.
"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."
A decision as to whether Smollett will return in a yet-to-be-ordered Season 6 remains to be seen. Empire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.