Smollett’s return to the series was initially unclear, with it initially being announced that he would not appear in the first half of the final season.
However, during Fox’s Television Critics Association tour, Collier told reporters, “We as much as anything, in a case like this you try to get all the information and make a good decision. [Lee Daniels] is right, there are no plans for Jussie to return to Empire.”
Daniels, showrunner and series creator, said back in June that he was “beyond embarrassed” after Smollett was indicted for allegedly fabricating a racist and homophobic hate crime. The charges were later dropped.
“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 [like] if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel?” Daniels said. “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.”
Daniels added that he’d stopped communicating with Smollett and felt that he was “a major part” of why Empire was canceled.
“I’m beyond embarrassed. 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,” he said. “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. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”
Smollett’s IMDb page currently has no upcoming projects listed.