Earlier this year Smollett, 37, was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. Once the charges were dropped, “Empire” fans began wondering exactly how the show was going to portray Smollett’s character’s exit. But Tuesday night, the premiere of season 6 revealed that Smollett’s character, “Jamal Lyon,” had run off to the U.K.
“Becky Williams” (Gabourey Sidibe) brought up Jamal Lyon while with “Cookie Lyon,” Taraji P. Henson’s character, who is Jamal’s mother. In the scene, Becky said, “Jamal and I used to wear these to our sleepovers all the time,” to which Cookie replied, “No wonder that boy ran off to London.” “I thought he was running away from Lyon drama,” Becky said. “I really miss him.” Cookie concurred: “Please don’t get me started. I miss him so much.”
Terrence Howard, who plays “Lucious Lyon,” told James Corden Tuesday night that he missed Smollett. “Out of nowhere, he’s snatched away from us,” Howard said. “He was the heart of our show, and now it’s like our show is on a heart and lung bypass machine. The heart is gone, but we’re still hoping that there’s going to be a transplant and hoping somehow it’ll come back together.” Howard went on to say that the cast is still trying to wrap their heads around the entire ordeal.
“We are all still trying to put the pieces together because my son is gone,” he said. “That was my little boy, and he’s gone now, and they don’t mention him as if that’s OK. And it’s like, ‘no, that’s not cool.’” Show co-creator #LeeDaniels said the controversy was a big factor in Fox’s decision to cancel the show following its sixth season.