Almost two months after Jussie Smollett was attacked in what Chicago police believe to be a staged hate crime, the actor’s “Empire” co-star is opening up about the atmosphere on the show’s set amid the legal drama and allegations.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Taraji P. Henson told Entertainment Tonight on Sunday, as she shifted the attention to her beloved character, Cookie.
“Cookie’s on a real emotional roller coaster this year,” Henson said. “She’s finding herself.”
As she continued, however, she did admit to knowing which “Empire” character would be killed off this season, since the cast and crew had already wrapped the season. However, she refused to spill the tea.
In the meantime, the fate of Smollett’s character remains unclear. Although he was reportedly written out of a few episodes after his indictment on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report, the show’s executive producer, Brett Mahoney, says the network is waiting to see how Smollett’s legal battle unfolds.
“It’s a matter of trusting the process and allowing the legal process to play out and see where it goes from here,” Mahoney told EW after the indictment. “And it’s too early to think about what we should have to do if we didn’t have Jussie. 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.”
However, when it comes to the fate of the show, Mahoney said he doesn’t think the drama has put the show in jeopardy.
“I know that the network and studio is really happy with what we’ve done creatively this season,” he continued. “I’m not surprised that we don’t necessarily have a pick up at this point as I think last season we waited until May. All the indications I have are that we will be. And we do have so many of these stories to tell, so I can’t imagine we won’t be able to tell them.”