CHICAGO — The producers behind Fox’s “Empire” have decided to remove actor Jussie Smollett’s character from the final two episodes of the season following his arrest this week.
The decision, producers said, was made to “avoid further disruption on set.”
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” the statement said. “Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out.”
“Empire” is in the midst of filming its season finale in Chicago.
Chicago police allege Smollett paid two men $3,500 to stage an attack on him last month.
Smollett had told police that on January 29 he was attacked by two people who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, tied a rope around his neck, and poured an unknown substance on him.
The incident prompted a flood of support for Smollett from all corners of Hollywood, including his “Empire” co-stars and producers.
Smollett has starred on Fox’s “Empire” since 2015. He plays Jamal, a successful singer in the musical Lyon family. Like his character, Smollett is gay.
Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct over falsely claiming he was attacked, police say.
Under Illinois law, filing a false police report is disorderly conduct and punishable by one to three years in prison.
Smollett has maintained that he did not make the story up.