Jussie Smollett // Chicago PD
On Thursday (Feb. 21), actor Jussie Smollett decided to turn himself into authorities to face felony charges for filing a false police report following his alleged Jan. 29 attack. The "Empire" actor was released from Cook County jail later that afternoon after paying a $10,000 bond and agreeing to surrender his passport.
After returning to the set of the FOX show later in the day, during which he reportedly apologized to his fellow cast members, the creators of the show have decided to write Smollett's character Jamal Lyon out of the final two episodes of the upcoming season.
"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," "Empire" executive producers Lee Daniels, Danny Strong, Brett Mahoney, Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer shared in a joint statement on Friday (Feb. 22). "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."
Following reports that the nature of the investigation had shifted, with Smollett eventually being named as an official suspect accused of orchestrating his attack, speculation grew that the creators of "Empire" would be writing his character off the show, which is currently filming its fifth season. The show is set to return to FOX on March 13.
Earlier in the week, the show's producers issued a statement commenting on the situation, referring to the 36-year-old as a "consummate professional" on set. They also expressed that they were evaluating their options regarding how to move forward in light of his arrest.
On Thursday, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson gave a press conference during which he stated authorities claim Smollett orchestrated the attack in order to take "advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
As reported, the actor could face one to three years of jail time.
At the time of this report, it remains unclear if the scenes Smollett had already shot for the upcoming season will be altered in wake of how the situation unfolded. Fans are taking to social media to voice whether or not they feel the allegations will kill his acting career, resulting in an ongoing national dialogue.
Take a look at the statement from the creators of "Empire" below.