EMPIRE star Terrence Howard has defended Jussie Smollett after the actor was dropped from the show for allegedly staging a racist street attack.
Howard, who plays music mogul Lucious Lyon on the Fox series, supported his onscreen son in an Instagram post on Saturday night.
He shared a video of Smollett playing with his own son Hero on a private plane with the caption: “All your lil homies got you…We love the hell outta you.”
It came a day after Empire producers announced that Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon, would be removed from the final two episodes of the season “to avoid further disruption on the set.”
Seven episodes were already completed before Smollett, 36, was charged on Thursday with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly faking his own hate attack in Chicago.
The actor claimed he was beaten up by two strangers who called him a “f****t,” a “n****r” and shouted, “This is MAGA country” before dousing him in bleach and throwing a rope around his neck.
HOAX ATTACK CLAIMS
Chicago authorities claim he plotted the bizarre scheme to bolster his own career and get a raise.
Smollett has denied it was a hoax and has told cops he has an “untreated” drug problem.
He has also been accused of sending himself a note containing a cartoon figure strung up by a noose and cut-out letters spelling: “You will die, black f*g”.
Smollett claimed the note was a threat before two Trump fans in MAGA hats shouted racist and homophobic abuse and punched him last month.
The Empire actor could face three years in jail after he was sensationally charged with staging the elaborate street assault so he could play victim.
After being released on bail on Thursday, sources told TMZ that Jussie arrived late on the Empire set and then begged his cast mates to believe he did not orchestrate the hoax.
PLEADED WITH EMPIRE CAST
“I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls,” he said, according to TMZ.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this.”
Earlier on Thursday, the actor was told to surrender his passport when he appeared in front of State of Illinois Circuit Court Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr.
The judge called the hate-crime hoax allegations against the star “utterly outrageous”.
TMZ claimed that Smollett may have got his “hoax homophobic attack plot” idea from an Instagram post the Empire co-creator shared weeks before.
Director Lee Daniels, 59, posted a heartfelt video on January 10, after his cousin was assaulted because he is gay.
Daniels, who uses the handle theoriginalbigdaddy, told his “gay brothers and sisters” it was “OK to be who you are” and “inevitably right will be done”.
The one minute long video had the caption: “This past week my cousin was beat up for being gay and I am sick of hearing these stories…
“For all the people who are hurting, who are struggling, and who are trying to find some meaning in this life, I am here to say if you need a safe place or a ear to listen, then I’m here.”
The TMZ report claimed Daniels told his cast members more about the attack on set, and they left were visibly upset.
If Smollett was looking to tug at Daniels’ heartstrings, he appeared to initially be successful.
On January 29, the day of Smollett’s alleged hoax attack, Daniels tweeted, “We got this,” accompanied by rainbow and black hand emojis.
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