Jussie Smollett, the Empire star who was arrested Thursday on a felony charge in the wake of allegedly planning a January attack on himself, went directly to the Fox series’ Chicago set after his bail hearing this afternoon, Deadline has confirmed.
Smollett was released on $100,000 bail and had his passport revoked during the court appearance. His defense lawyers insisted during the hearing that Smollett needed to get back to work on Empire, which was continuing production today.
What he will do there — today, or going forward — remains unclear. Smollett’s upcoming scenes on Empire were reduced or cut amid the investigation, so it’s not clear if he will get back in front of the camera anytime soon. Producer 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment issued a statement today saying “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”
This all comes after a wild 48 hours after Smollett became a suspect in his own January 29 attack, which police now say he orchestrated in an attempt to gain attention and increase his pay on the series. His current salary is $100,000 per week for his co-starring role as Jamal Lyon on the hip hop drama, which is shooting its currently airing fifth season.
Fox has steadfastly stood by Smollett since news first surfaced off the attack, in which Smollett said he was accosted by two men in the early-morning hours in front of his Chicago apartment. He claimed the men yelled racial and homophobic epithets, struck him, doused him in bleach and tied a noose around his neck.
Prosecutors in court today showed a series of text messages between Smollett and the two men, brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, planning the attack. The texts included preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault.
Empire returns from its winter hiatus with new episodes March 15.
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