‘Empire’ bosses think it is "too early" to decide whether Jussie Smollett still has a future on the show.
The 36-year-old actor was dropped from the final two episodes of the current fifth season of the musical family drama after he was charged for allegedly staging a faked racist and homophobic attack on himself but showrunner Brett Mahoney insists a final decision on whether he will be back as Jamal Lyon doesn’t need to be made this early in the legal process.
He said: "It’s a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from there. And it’s too early to think about what we would have to do if we didn’t have Jussie.
"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."
However, the executive producer felt making the "difficult decision" to drop Jussie from the final weeks of filming was the best thing to do, both to allow him to focus on his legal battle and his co-stars to focus on the show without any "disruption" or stress.
He explained to Entertainment Weekly: "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, and, 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."
Although it has been rumoured the series faces cancellation should the actor be found guilty, Brett has reassured fans that he’s confident it will be picked up for another season.
He said: "I’m not surprised that we don’t necessarily have a pick up at this point as I think last season we waited until May.
"All the indications I have are that we will be. And we do have so many of these stories to tell, so I can’t imagine we won’t be able to tell them."
Jussie has denied the allegations against him.