Empire creator reveals cast’s ‘anger and sadness’ over Jussie Smollett case

By Keiran Southern, Press Association Los Angeles Correspondent

The creator of Empire has revealed the cast’s “anger and sadness” over the Jussie Smollett incident.

US actor Smollett has been removed from the final episodes of season five of the FX musical drama amid allegations he lied to police over an alleged assault.

Smollett is accused of hiring two men to stage a racist and homophobic attack on him in downtown Chicago on January 29.

He has appeared in court to deny 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

Ahead of Empire’s return to the screen in the US on Wednesday, series creator Lee Daniels shared a video to Instagram and said the period since Smollett’s arrest had been a “rollercoaster”.

He said: “Me and my cast have experienced pain, anger, sadness and frustration, and really don’t know how to deal with it.”

Daniels said the episode of Empire airing on Wednesday was filmed “prior to the incident”.

Empire actor Jussie Smollet has denied falsifying a police report (E Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP)

He said the show, which follows a hip-hop music mogul and his family, was made, “to bring America together, to talk about the atrocities that are happening right now on the streets”.

Chicago police allege Smollett organised the attack as a publicity stunt because he was unhappy with his salary on Empire.

Smollett denies the accusations. He is next scheduled to appear in court on April 17.