Lee Daniels on Jussie Smollett: It's very painful to talk about even now.
While stopping by "The Breakfast Club" on Tuesday (April 23), Lee did not confirm nor deny if Jussie, who he called a "son," will be returning for the show's sixth season, however, he did call the fallout from Jussie's alleged staged hate crime traumatizing.
"We're in talks to figure out what we're going to do with the show," Lee admitted when asked about the rumors that he has plans to kick Jussie off the show. "It's real. It's traumatic. It has traumatized the show. It has traumatized the actors. It's very painful to talk about even now. I think we're still living it and we're trying to figure it out."
In late February, "Empire" show executives announced Smollett's character had been cut from the final two episodes of Season 5 amid the investigation. His future on the series still remains unclear, though his co-stars appear to be optimistic and calling for his return.
Lee said he has no plans on letting Jussie's situation get in the way of an epic new season. In fact, he's planning to bring Empire back bigger and better. "The future of Empire is going to be bombastic," Lee said confidently. "This Jussie situation took us at a lightening, so they are depending on me to come up with something... they're looking at me like 'Lee what you gon' do?' And I'm like 'I'm gon' f**k everybody up.' It's time for me to get back to roots [...] It's time for me to do something that's completely unexpected that will f**k ni**as up, that's gonna say 'Okay, Daniels is back at the helm.'"