It’s been five months since news broke that Jussie Smollett would not be returning to “Empire” for the show’s final season. But according to his former “Empire” co-star Vivica A. Fox, viewers shouldn’t hold their breath about him ditching the show for good.
The actress discussed the embattled actor on “Watch What Happens Live” Sunday and mentioned it wasn’t easy seeing him not be included on the show for season 6.
“That was tough. He’s family, he’s always gonna be family,” Fox says. “I love him to death. But there was just too much drama surrounding the circumstances.”
In January, Smollett claimed two Donald Trump supporters hurled racist and homophobic insults at him on a freezing night in Chicago. Allegedly shouting, “This is MAGA country!” Smollett claimed the men wearing “Make America Great Again” caps tied a noose around his neck and doused him in a substance later described as bleach.
The incident led to an investigation by local police, but authorities later accused him of staging the attack and charged Smollett with 16 felony counts related to his claims. Those charges were dropped by March, however.
Still, “Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels announced in June that the man who plays Jamal Lyon in the primetime musical drama won’t be back. The announcement came on the same day that reports emerged claiming writers were drafting ways for Smollett to continue on the show.
“This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” Daniels tweeted of the claims. When season 6 bowed, Jamal’s absence was briefly addressed by mom Cookie Lyon telling his pal Becky Williams that Jamal “ran off to London.”
But according to Fox, Smollett’s character, who was also axed from the remaining season 5 episodes after the hate crime controversy, might be returning from the trip to Europe before “Empire” concludes its run.
“Who knows? Don’t count him out,” said Fox, who said she remains in touch with Smollett. “Y’all may see him.”
Fox said on “WWHL” that they are only halfway through season 6 and so it remains to be seen if she’s proved true.
Meanwhile, fans of the show have been sounding off on whether or not they want Smollett, who has continued to maintain he did not stage his alleged attack, to come back.
“Jussie fckd Up. He had to be cut”
“Everybody deserves a second chance, including Jussie. However, with or without him, the writing on Empire has been atrocious this season. Seasons 1-3 were🔥🔥🔥 Auntie Viv looks great💖”
Smollett nor Daniels have publicly commented on Fox’s remarks.