Is Jussie Smollett leaving “Empire”?
That’s the question fans of the Fox hit are trying to answer after the star posted a cryptic message on Twitter today.
In the message, posted shortly after midnight, Smollett, 32, said he’s enjoyed his time on the series but it’s time to “make a record & some movies.” He also posted an Instagram message that fuels suspicions of his departure. Hmm…
Smollett plays singer Jamal Lyon, the middle of Cookie and Lucious Lyon’s three sons and an heir to the family’s billion-dollar musical dynasty. Jamal is openly gay (much to his father’s chagrin) and his experiences around this, along with his good looks and easy nature, helped make him one of the show’s most popular characters. Like his character, Smollett does sing and publicly came out as gay last year.
The promo for the penultimate episode, leading to next week’s season 2 finale, hinted that a Lyon would fall. I’m trying hard not to give away any spoilers just in case you haven’t watched the episode, but I will say that someone was severely wounded. Is it fatal? We don’t know yet. But just because a main character was injured, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person will die. The promo dramatically hinted that “one Lyon will fall,” but does that member have to include Lucious and his pride? Could it be baby boy Hakeem’s child that Anika is carrying or maybe Lucious’s mentally-ill mother, though technically not a Lyon (he changed his name)?
I would love to say I reached out to Smollett and he immediately provided an explanation, but neither has happened. Though Smollett’s been acting for the past 25 years (he had roles in the films “The Mighty Ducks” and “North” and starred in a 1990s ABC series with his siblings), his role on “Empire” along with the series’ success has helped his star to soar very high. Smollett did guest star on “Underground,” the WGN America hit slave drama starring his younger sister Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and mentioned during a panel I moderated with that series’ stars that he couldn’t join the cast because of his commitment to “Empire.”
“I honestly was looking for a chance to work with my sister. And originally they had asked me to play a character who would’ve been one of her brothers. And, of course, we were so excited about that. And then Fox was like, ‘Bro, you got a job,’” Smollett said in February when I asked him why he decided to take the role of a runaway slave named Josie.
Well, maybe Smollett is looking for his star to rise even higher and sees shedding all things Jamal Lyon as the way. Or maybe Smollett is just trolling and helping to drum up headlines and eyeballs for next week’s finale (there were rumors earlier this year that Trai Byers who plays eldest son Andre Lyon was leaving the series).
Either way, we’ll be tuned in and will hopefully know whether Smollett will remain on the show.
Read more about the episode that has everyone talking here or watch it below. The “Empire” season 2 finale airs at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.
WATCH: “Empire” season 2 penultimate episode