‘Empire’ family ‘outraged’ after police say star attacked in possible hate crime

Actor-singer Jussie Smollett, from the Fox series, “Empire,” poses for a portrait on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in New York. (Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
Actor-singer Jussie Smollett, from the Fox series, “Empire,” poses for a portrait on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in New York. (Victoria Will/Invision/AP) Victoria Will/Invision/AP

Jussie Smollett’s “Empire” family has rallied around the actor as Chicago police investigate a possible hate crime against him.

Smollett was assaulted about 2 a.m. Tuesday, police told Variety, Us Weekly and other entertainment outlets.

In a statement, police said the actor was beaten by two men who got his attention by yelling “racial and homophobic slurs” at him, Variety reported.

Police said Smollett “was walking in the 300 block of E. Lower Water Street” when two offenders started yelling at him, according to CBS Chicago.

Deadline reported Smollett had just returned to Chicago, where the show is filmed, from New York.

The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.,” said the police statement, tweeted by HuffPost editor Phillip Lewis.

One of the offenders wrapped a rope around Smollett’s neck, the police statement said.

Police said the actor drove himself to Northwestern Hospital, where he was reported in good condition. As of Tuesday afternoon, Smollett has not said anything publicly about the attack.

His “Empire” co-star Vivica A. Fox called the attack “senseless.”

According to WGN in Chicago, 20th Century Fox released a statement that said: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night.

“We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”

Danny Strong, co-executive producer of the show, tweeted he is “deeply horrified and saddened by the racist and homophobic attacks against @JussieSmollett. He is a kind and profoundly talented soul whom I respect with all my heart. The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live...

“whoever did this, do not forget that you are nothing but hate filled cowards while Jussie’s talent and activism will continue to shine a bright light on to the world for decades to come.”

“Empire” co-creator Lee Daniels posted an emotional response on his Instagram, saying, “we have to love each other regardless of whatever sexual orientation we are because it shows that we are united, on a united front.”

(Warning: The following video contains offensive and profane language.)

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We got this @jussiesmollett

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According to Us Weekly, Smollett has portrayed the gay character, Jamal Lyon, on “Empire” for five seasons. He came out as gay in a 2015 interview with Ellen DeGeneres, the entertainment magazine reports.

“Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline,” the police statement said.