Jussie Smollett: 'Empire' Showrunner Dishes on Changing Season 5's Final Episodes

Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney has dished on changing Season 5's final episodes in the wake of the Jussie Smollett controversy.

While speaking to EW in a recent interview, Mahoney commented on how the show handled reworking the last few episodes of the season with Smollett being written out.

"It definitely was an unexpected wrench to have to take the character Jamal out of those final two episodes, just because he is an important part of the show. But, luckily, we have such a strong ensemble and so many stories to tell," he said.

"So often when you get towards the end of the season, I have so much story to tell that sometimes having to take something out means having room for something else that I'm just as passionate about, so we were able to make that work," Mahoney went on to say.

He also acknowledged how complicated the whole situation was after discovering that Smollett was suspected and then later charged for fabricating the hate-crime attack he claimed to have suffered in January.

"It was a very difficult decision, but I think in terms of allowing the cast and the crew to really get the work done without a great deal of disruption in terms of the day-to-day and the stress of the day-to-day, and, in addition, allowing Jussie the time to really deal with what he's been confronted with and allow him the time to focus and prepare his case, this seems like the logical decision to make," Mahoney explained.

The Empire EP addressed the notion that Smollett could be fired from the show for good.

"It's a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from there," he stated. "And it's too early to think about what we would have to do if we didn't have Jussie. We have such a strong ensemble and we have so many stories to tell for all of these fascinating characters that it's bigger than one character, but it's too early to think about the show without him."


Smollett is currently facing 16 felony counts of lying to the police about the assault. The allegations are specifically referred to as "false report of offense," and are defined as Class 4 felonies.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed," Smollett's indictment read in part. He is due back on court Thursday.