Actor Jussie Smollett’s scenes in the Fox show “Empire” have reportedly gotten cut back amid the controversy surrounding his claims of being a victim of a hate crime.
Smollett originally alleged that two white men physically attacked him, making racial and homophobic slurs in the upscale Streeterville neighborhood on Chicago’s north side.
The 36-year-old actor, who has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, claimed one of the attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country.”
Smollett further alleged his assailants “poured an unknown chemical substance” on him and put a noose around his neck, according to CNN.
CBS affiliate WBBM-TV reported that sources informed the news outlet that Chicago police are seeking to interview the actor again after receiving information the attack was staged. Smollett is believed to have paid two men $3,500 to carry out the fake assault.
The Nigerian men — brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo — left for Nigeria the day after the attack and have since returned to the U.S. CNN reported they are now fully cooperating with police.
According to TMZ, in light of these revelations, production sources for the Fox show “Empire” have cut back the nine scenes Smollett was supposed to appear in to only four.
He was slated to appear in a “big musical number” in the second to the last episode, which has been nixed.
“As for the remaining 4 scenes … we’re told he’s no longer the focus. The scene features an ensemble, meaning he’s flanked by a number of cast members,” TMZ reported.
As “Empire” writers scramble to rewrite the season’s closing scripts, Smollett faces the prospect of being charged with filing a false police report.
The Wrap reported that Smollett so far has not agreed to a second interview by police.
Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted in response, “No problem, its not like he faked a vicious hate crime and rehearsed it thoroughly to try to create a national narrative of hate against Trump supporters… Or that he went on TV to bolster his whole hoax to create attention for himself as a victim or anything like that… Right?”
No problem, its not like he faked a vicious hate crime and rehearsed it thoroughly to try to create a national narrative of hate against Trump supporters… Or that he went on TV to bolster his whole hoax to create attention for himself as a victim or anything like that… Right? https://t.co/CPDpp0LjGD
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 19, 2019
Nikki Haley — who was South Carolina’s governor when her state experienced a true hate crime with the 2015 Charleston church shooting — said Smollett must be held accountable for his actions.
“Thoughts on Jussie Smollett case: He must be held accountable in the strictest way,” she tweeted. “He must repay resources used to investigate and serve time for the division he caused. The media should be the most outraged. He played all of them for fools. He knew they would cover it.”