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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

Jussie Smollett returns to Empire set following court appearance in Chicago

20th Century Fox is said to be "considering options" following Smollett's court appearance

Actor Jussie Smollett is reported to have returned to the set of Empire after he was charged with lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime.

The 36-year-old handed himself in to police on Thursday morning, before he appeared at Cook County Court in Chicago, where his bail was set at $100,000. After posting bond, Smollett was escorted through a crowd of media to a waiting car, which reportedly took him to the studios where Empire is filmed.

Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon in 20th Century Fox drama, told police he was attacked in the early hours of the morning close to his Chicago home by two men who shouted racists and homophobic abuse at him. He is also said to have had a rope tied around his neck and bleach poured over him.

Jussie Smollett after his arrest by Chicago police. AP.
Jussie Smollett after his arrest by Chicago police. AP.

The attack is alleged to have happened on January 29, but after a two-week investigation, Smollett was arrested by police who now believe he planned and staged the attack alongside two brothers - Abindola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo – who he knew socially and had worked with on the Empire set. Police say he planned the attack because he was unhappy with his salary on the show.

20th Century Fox is now said to be “considering its options” in regards to Smollett’s legal situation. “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process,” the production company said in a statement on Thursday. “We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options." They added that Smollett "continues to be a consummate professional on set."

Jussie Smollett, appears in from before Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. with his attorney Jack Prior at Cook County Court (AP Photo/Tom Gianni)
Jussie Smollett, appears in from before Cook County Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr. with his attorney Jack Prior at Cook County Court (AP Photo/Tom Gianni)

The show is currently filming scenes for season five, which is set to premiere on US television in mid-March. Smollett is due back in court on March 14.

Following Smollett’s court appearance, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson condemned the actor's alleged actions, saying: "This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

He added: "Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with this salary. He concocted a story about being attacked. We gave him the benefit of the doubt."

A spokesman for Smollet's lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said on Thursday: "Once we are ready to make a statement we will do so."

Updated: February 22, 2019 01:15 PM

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