Jussie Smollett’s character has been written out of the final two episodes of Empire, but it wasn’t an easy decision for the creators and producers on the show.
In fact, for executive producer Brett Mahoney, everyone on the Fox show had to weigh their options when it came to removing Smollett.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. You have someone in your family who’s going through this, while at the same time, we’re shooting the final episodes of the season, which are also just heightened emotionally,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
“So it was a lot to deal with and a lot to go through, but we’re really just focused on finishing strong.”
He continued, “We’re in our last week of production and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done this season, and hopefully the fans will really engage with these back nine episodes.”
And, not only was it hard to remove Smollett, it was hard to remove his character, Jamal Lyon.
“It definitely was an unexpected wrench to have to take the character Jamal out of those final two episodes, just because he is an important part of the show,” he said.
“But, luckily, we have such a strong ensemble and so many stories to tell. So often when you get towards the end of the season, I have so much story to tell that sometimes having to take something out means having room for something else that I’m just as passionate about, so we were able to make that work.”
As for Smollett’s future on the show, they are waiting to make any final decisions.
“It’s a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from there. And it’s too early to think about what we would have to do if we didn’t have Jussie,” he shared.
“We have such a strong ensemble and we have so many stories to tell for all of these fascinating characters that it’s bigger than one character, but it’s too early to think about the show without him.”