With news that actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty on 16 counts he was indicted for after being arrested for filing a police report, his Empire showrunner is sounding off on the controversy.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brett Mahoney talked about Smollett's legal fiasco and what it could mean for the future of the Lyon family.
Mahoney revealed the difficult task of removing Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon, from the final two episodes of the fifth season. "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," Mahoney said to EW. "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 also reveals that the Empire crew have not thought about the future of the Fox musical drama without Smollett. "It’s a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from there," he said. "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 was indicted on 16 counts for filing a police report in connection with a racist and homophobic attack he alleges he was the victim of in Chicago during the early morning hours of January 29.