Jussie Smollett's character will not appear in the final episodes of the season on "Empire," the show's producers said Friday.
"Empire" is in its fifth season and filming scenes for its March 13 return. Executive producers for the show, which follows music mogul Lucious Lyon and his family, said in a joint statement "to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our EMPIRE family for the past five years and we care about him deeply," the statement said. "While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out."
After leaving a Chicago jail, Smollett returned to the set of "Empire" and reportedly apologized to his castmates and crew while also denying he orchestrated his own alleged hate crime.
Several media outlets reported that Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox show, was seen arriving Thursday afternoon at the studio where "Empire" films.
"We know that cameras caught him leaving the jailhouse facility and actually returning to the production lot where he shoots 'Empire," NBC journalist Miguel Almaguer said on the "Today" show. "We're told he apologized to the cast and vehemently denied any involvement in any lies."
Smollett, 36, was charged Wednesday with filing a false report for the alleged hoax assault on himself last month because he was unhappy with his salary on "Empire," police said.
"Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference Thursday.
The actor had told police Jan. 29 that he was attacked by two masked men while he was out getting food in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. Smollett, who is black and gay, said the men hurled racist and homophobic slurs before beating him, putting a noose around his neck and pouring what he said was bleach on him.
Brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo were arrested but later released by police. Authorities said last week the brothers were not suspects and were cooperating with the investigation. On Wednesday, Chicago police said Smollett was a suspect and charged him with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.
Smollett was arrested Thursday morning, and hours later police and prosecutors laid out in detail how the actor allegedly paid the Osundairo brothers $3,500 via a check to attack him. Smollett is also accused of giving the men money to purchase the supplies they would need for the staged assault.
The actor made his first court appearance Thursday afternoon, where he appeared visibly frustrated and sighed and rolled his eyes as a criminal complaint was read. His attorneys called the accusations against him "outrageous" and told the judge that Smollett was active in his community and had plans to return to work following the bond hearing. He was released from jail after posting $10,000 of his $100,000 bond.
In a statement Thursday evening, his attorneys called the day’s event "an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system."
"Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing," they said.
20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment, the studio behind "Empire,” issued a statement Thursday morning saying they "understand the seriousness of this matter" and were considering their options.