20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment have voiced their support for “Empire” star Jussie Smollett after it was reported the actor and musician staged an attack on himself in Chicago. Chicago media had previously reported that Smollett staged the attack because he was being written off of the Fox series. However the Chicago P.D. said the reports of a hoax are still unconfirmed.
“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of ‘Empire’ is patently ridiculous,” the network and studio said in a joint statement. “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
Reps for Smollett previously told Variety that reports Smollett staged the attack were “ridiculous rumors.”
The Empire Writers account tweeted, “The writers of Empire have never planned or even discussed writing Jussie Smollett off of the show.”
“Empire” writer and executive producer Diane Ademu-John wrote, “Having been in on every story move on Empire for the past three seasons, I can tell you unequivocally that Jussie’s charcter Jamal was never in danger of being “written off.”
It was reported on Thursday that the Chicago police were interviewing two persons of interest in the case, believed to be the two men seen in a surveillance video image released by the police shortly after the first report of the attack. The men turned out to be brothers from Nigeria, with police executing a search warrant on their home that same day. Investigators reportedly took a laptop, shoes, and bleach from the home.
On Jan. 29, it was reported that Smollett had been assaulted by two men at approximately 2 a.m. in the 300 block of E. North Water St. Smollett stated that the two men had shouted “racial and homophobic slurs” at him before beating him, pouring a chemical believed to be bleach on him, and putting a rope around his neck.
Also on Thursday, “Good Morning America” aired Smollett’s first interview since the incident. “If I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot more,” Smollett said during the interview.