An insider says Howard never believed the hate crime story.
Empire's production stood by Jussie Smollett throughout his hate crime scandal until recently. When the actor became the suspect of a felony crime for allegedly filing a false police report, solidarity appeared to keep the crew together. However, the show suddenly issued a statement announcing Smollett's dismissal on Friday, February 22, after Smollett turned himself in. The actor, who plays Jamal Lyon on the series, will not take part in the last two episodes of this season. His departure would "avoid any further disruptions on set" in relation to the controversial legal situation. This dynamic was not only formed by the delicate nature of Smollett's criminal charges. It appears to have also been amplified by a blowout between actors.
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According to a source who spoke to TMZ, "Thursday was a complete disaster on set after Jussie turned himself into Chicago Police. Terrence (Howard) was so upset he refused to come out of his trailer for most of the day." They claim Howard did not believe Jussie's story from the very beginning of the debacle since his testimony did not seem to make sense. He began to confront him with questions as the investigation developed.
Abel and Ola Osundairo's testimonies bolstered Howard's grilling. He reportedly screamed at his co-star, urging him to confess. Later that evening, Jussie addressed the crew to apologize about the scandal while still maintaining his innocence. Howard was nowhere in sight at the time. Other members of the Empire team are also said to harbor similar sentiments as Howard. This flagrant tension led to Jussie's dismissal.
Terrence Howard still displayed support for Jussie Smollett via social media on Saturday.