Lee Daniels Says He's 'Beyond Embarrassed' for Supporting Jussie Smollett After Alleged Attack

Jussie Smollett and Lee Daniels
Chance Yeh/FilmMagic

Following the news that Empire star Jussie Smollett had allegedly been the victim of a homophobic, racist attack in Chicago back in January, one of the loudest voices to come out and support the star was his friend and Empire creator, Lee Daniels.

Now, with Smollett having been publicly accused of faking the attack for publicity and getting written off the Fox drama entirely, Lee admitted in an interview with Vulture that he regrets his staunch and vocal support.

"I'm beyond embarrassed," Daniels shared. "I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten."

Daniels, who became close friends with Smollett during the production of the series, said that the accusations against Smollett -- which the actor has roundly denied -- came out of the "blue," and added that it would feel like a betrayal "If it turned out that he did it."

Smollett has maintained his innocence in the face of allegations that he orchestrated the attack himself. The actor was indicted on 16 felony charges, however the charges were dropped by the District Attorney before a trial began.

Chicago police stand by their findings, and have released over 2000 pages of documents and files detailing their exhaustive investigation which they claim implicates Smollett as the orchestrator of the crime.

However, for Daniels, he's still not convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Smollett planned the attack on himself.

"Of course, there’s some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much," Daniels said. "That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, 'Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story.' That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain."

"We weren’t there. I can’t judge him," Daniels added. "That’s only for the f**king lady or man with that black robe and God."

Daniels went on to explain that the stress of dealing with the situation had started to get to him, so he had to step back from the fray.

"I had to detach myself and stop calling him, because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner," Daniels recalled. "It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything."

It was recently announced by Fox that Empire's sixth season will be its last, and Daniels' himself recently shot down rumors that Smollett would be returning to wrap up his story lines late in the season.

For more on the drama surrounding the embattled actor, watch the video below.


Jussie Smollett 'Will Not' Return for 'Empire' Final Season, Lee Daniels Says

Lee Daniels Says 'Empire' Cast Has Felt 'Pain, Anger, Sadness & Frustration' Since Jussie Smollett Scandal

Lee Daniels Shares Powerful Words for Jussie Smollett After Racist Attack

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