Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, who has never explicitly said that Jussie Smollett won’t return to the Fox series, tweeted Tuesday that the actor won’t reprise his role.
His tweet, posted in response to a report which stated that the Empire writers were preparing for his return on the show’s sixth and final season, read, “This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
Back in March, Daniels posted an emotional video on social media in which he spoke about the “pain and anger” he’s felt since Smollett was accused of a hate crime in January. Following the alleged hate crime hoax and subsequent arrest in Chicago, the actor did not appear in the show’s final two episodes of the fifth season.
Despite Smollett being dropped on all 16 felony charges and his record wiped clean, his fate on the show has been unclear. Since last week’s release of court records from Chicago’s Cook County office, the case has raised further questions concerning how lawmakers handled the proceeding.
Empire was renewed for its final season in April, noting that while Smollett remains under contract, his character Jamal Lyon, would not be appearing.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.