Jussie Smollett’s role on “Empire” is being slashed in the wake of reports that he staged the attack.
Production sources tell TMZ that the 36-year-old actor was supposed to have nine scenes and a big musical performance in the second-to-last episode of Season 5, which is currently being shot. However, five of his scenes have been cut, and his musical number has been nixed.
Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, is no longer the focus of the remaining four scenes, which will now feature an ensemble of cast members.
As a result, Jussie will be spending far less time on set. Instead of working every day this week, he will only be working Friday and possibly Thursday, and won’t be rehearsing. “Empire” writers have been scrambling to revise the script over the last 24 hours.
Smollett claims he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack on Jan. 29 that left him beaten and covered in bleach with a rope around his neck. Two men were questioned by police last week, saying they were paid to help stage the assault near Smollett’s Chicago apartment.
The case will now head to a grand jury as early as today. Smollett could be charged with a felony indictment for allegedly filing a false police report.
Smollett and his lawyers have denied the attack was staged. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” said his attorneys in a statement. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”