Technically speaking, we still don’t know what exactly happened in the Jussie Smollett incident. Public opinion seems to be split, with comics in particular — including Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan — not buying his claim that, in late January, the Empire actor was the victim of a hate crime by MAGA heads.
Some of the actor’s Empire colleagues have stayed by his side. One of them is Taraji P. Henson, who went on The View to innocently talk about her new movie, the Civil Rights era docudrama The Best of Enemies. Naturally, she was asked about Empire, and naturally, she was asked about Smollett, whose fate on the show remains uncertain. According to her, it’s actually pretty certain — unless it’s not.
The award-winning actress started by talking about Smollett himself. “I talk to Jussie all the time,” she said. “He’s doing well. We’re all doing well. The show is doing well.”
She was then asked if he’d be returning to the show, to which she quickly blurted out, “Yes.” Though Henson qualified that a bit by adding, “I haven’t heard anything else.” Then she qualified that a bit more by adding, “I haven’t heard anything.” With that, the conversation quickly turned elsewhere as the matter was dropped, never to be brought up again.
The exchange was caught by Entertainment Weekly, to whom Fox said they had no comment on Henson’s claim. Last month, EW spoke to Empire showrunner Brett Mahoney. He told them then, before the felony charges against Smollett were dropped by an angry and still doubtful Chicago Police Department and the case’s prosecutors, that it was “too early to think about the show without him.”
Speaking of the city of Chicago, Henson’s comments arrived on the heels of a Deadline report indicating that Smollett had missed the deadline set by outgoing Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel to repay the city for the estimated $130,000 it cost to run the investigation into his claims. They will thus be drafting a civil complaint to be sent to Smollett’s legal team. In a letter Smollett received from the city on March 28, he was warned they could seek more than $390,000, or three times the initial charge, should he fail to pay.
In other words, guilty of filing a false police report or not, Smollett is possibly out of a lot of money.
(Via Entertainment Weekly and Deadline)