FOX suspended production on Empire after cast member Jussie Smollett fell victim to a horrifying hate crime attack in Chicago yesterday.
Filming for both Empire and legal drama Proven Innocent was temporarily halted due to the arctic weather that Illinois is currently experiencing.
Temperatures are set to remain below freezing this week, and the city is currently at -26 degrees celsius.
The actor, who plays Jamal Lyon in the drama series, was walking back from Subway in the early hours of the morning when two unknown assailants yelled both homophobic and racial slurs at him before beating him up while shouting: “This is a MAGA [Make America Great Again] country.”
At one point, a rope was tied around Jussie’s neck and an unknown substance – reported to be bleach – was poured onto his skin.
He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but has since been released while Chicago PD are investigating the incident as battery.
Chicago PD told TMZ: “[We] received a report of a possible racially-charged assault and battery involving a cast member of the television show Empire.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”
A spokesperson for Fox previously told E! News: “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.”
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Earlier today, it was reported that Jussie turned down Empire producers’ offer to have extra security after he received a racist and homophobic letter on set.
TMZ reported that Empire offered him the protection after being left concerned for his safety.
Jussie has starred in Empire since 2015 and came out as gay that same year during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
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