Smollett -- who played Fox's nephew, Jamal Lyon, on the show -- was written out of the final two episodes of season five after he was arrested in February for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was a victim of a hate crime. Jamal's absence has been explained by his mother, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), stating that he left for London to escape the family's drama.
All charges against Smollett have since been dropped, though the city of Chicago is seeking reimbursement from the 37-year-old actor to cover over $130,000 in investigatory fees, which Smollett has refused to pay.
"That was tough," Fox admitted of creator Lee Daniels' decision to cut Smollett from the Fox series. "He's family. He's always gonna be family. Love him to death, but there was just too much drama surrounding the circumstances."
Despite the drama, Fox said that "of course" she's still in touch with Smollett, adding, "I love him. And who knows? Don't count him out. Y'all may see him."
"On Empire?" Cohen questioned, to which Fox simply responded by fluttering her eyelashes.
"He was the heart of our show and now it's like our show is on a heart and lung bypass machine," Howard, who previously defended Smollett, said at the time. "Because the heart is gone, but we're still hoping there's going to be a transplant and hoping somehow it'll come back together."
Howard added that both he and the cast of Empire are "still trying to put the pieces together," adding, "'cause my son is gone."
"My son. That was my little boy and he's gone now and they don't mention him as if it's OK," he continued. "And it's, like, no. That's not cool."