Following reports that Jussie Smollett’s character was being cut from upcoming scenes of Empire, representatives at 20th Century Fox TV on Wednesday maintained the actor is not being written out of the show.
“Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated,” the statement said. “He is not being written out of the show.”
When asked on Tuesday about reports saying Smollett’s role had been reduced in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the Chicago Police Department, Fox had previously declined to comment, fueling speculation that the network was preparing to cut ties with him.
Empire is currently filming its fifth season in Chicago and, according to TMZ, Smollett is appearing in only four of the nine scenes he was originally supposed to act in. One of the five scenes that were cut reportedly included “a big musical number” in an upcoming episode.
Chicago police are continuing to investigate what Smollett has said was a homophobic and racist attack on him in the city last month. He denies the incident was a hoax that he orchestrated.
Fox has stood by Smollett since he first reported being attacked in Chicago on Jan. 29. Last week, the studio released a statement responding to speculation that the actor’s role on Empire was being slashed.
“The idea that Jussie Smollett has been, or would be, written off of Empire is patently ridiculous,” the statement said. “He remains a core player on this very successful series and we continue to stand behind him.”
A source close to Fox also told BuzzFeed News last week that the network still considers Smollett a “key player” on the show and that they believe the attack “really happened.”