“Oh, absolutely. [But,] we have to see Jussie [Smollett],” she explained to ABC Audio. “I feel like there’s really no way to wrap this show up without him. He was…and is such an integral part.”
Smollett was indicted earlier this year on 16 counts of disorderly conduct in Chicago for filing a false police report after claiming he was the victim of a homophobic hate crime in late January. All charges were eventually dropped, a decision that is currently being reviewed by a special prosecutor.
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Smollett was written out of the final episodes of Season 5 after he was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, and he has been maintaining a low profile ever since.
“Empire” creator Lee Daniels confirmed in June that Smollett would not return as Jamal Lyon for the show’s final season.
“This is not factual,” Daniels tweeted. “Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire.”
But Henson, who plays Jussie onscreen mother, Cookie Lyon, says the cast “miss[es] him dearly.”
“That character was very important to our show, especially for the LGBT community,” she says. “So, we’re trying to keep him alive without him being there.”
“I know Cookie is because that was her baby,” she continues. “Still her baby. And he my baby — still in real life.”
“Empire” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.