How Jussie Smollett Is Feeling About His Last 'Empire' Episode This Season Amid Legal Woes
By Paige Gawley
Jussie Smollett's final appearance on this season of Empirewill air this week, and a source tells ET that it's an important episode for the TV star.
The source says that the 36-year-old actor's final episode of Empire'scurrent season, which will air on April 24, is a huge episode for Smollett's character, Jamal Lyon. This was an episode that Smollett really championed with the writers and a story line he is proud of, the source adds.
Though Smollett has been written off the final two episodes of the current season, his role on the series is as uncertain as everyone else's, the source says. The show's fate will be decided at Fox's upfront presentation, where the cast and crew will find out if the show will be picked up for another season and what that decision means for those who work on the series.
While actor is thrilled for fans to see this episode, the excitement might be somewhat clouded by what's going on in his personal life.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21 after being charged with felony disorderly conduct. After reporting an alleged attack in January, Smollett claimed that he was assaulted by two masked men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured what he believed was bleach over him and put a noose around his neck.
Late last month, Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform 16 hours of community service. After the charges were dropped, Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for the city of Chicago’s Department of Law, told ET that the city was seeking $130,106.15 from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation. Smollett, through Geragos, issued a letter refusing to pay the sum.
As for how Smollett is doing now, a source tells ET that he's relieved that the charges, which he believes should have never been filed, have been dropped because he says that he did not do anything wrong. Smollett, the source adds, believes that his story never changed and he just wants to put this whole situation behind him.
A second source tells ET that Smollett's team is very confident that he will be victorious in the civil suit brought against him by the city of Chicago because, the source claims, the evidence just isn’t there. Smollett has no plans to pay the fines in the civil suit at this time and is planning to fight, the source alleges.
The source says that they are confident that the inspector general's report will vindicate Smollett and show that there were valid reasons for dropping the charges. They did not have the evidence, the source claims, and hopefully this will clear up any confusion people have.
Smollett feels very disappointed right now because he thought that, after the charges were dropped, this would all be behind him and he could move on, the source says, adding that the fact that there is so much controversy is upsetting to him.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the brothers whom Chicago police claim carried out the alleged staged attack on Smollett announced that they are suing the Empire star's attorneys -- Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian -- for defamation for unspecified damages.
In a joint statement the brothers said that they "have sat back and watched lie after lie being fabricated about us in the media only so one big lie can continue to have life."
"These lies are destroying our character and reputation in our personal and professional lives," the statement continued. "Those who know us personally know hate for anyone is not who we are. We try to spread as much love and positivity with whoever we come in contact with. We will no longer sit back and allow these lies to continue."
Geragos and Glandian released a statement of their own, saying that "at first we thought this comical legal document was a parody."
"Instead this so-called lawsuit by the brothers is more of their lawyer driven nonsense, and a desperate attempt for them to stay relevant and further profit from an attack they admit they perpetrated," the statement continued. "While we know this ridiculous lawsuit will soon be dismissed because it lacks any legal footing, we look forward to exposing the fraud the Osundairo brothers and their attorneys have committed on the public."
Smollett has maintained that he is a victim and denied all allegations that he staged the incident.