Three weeks ago, Hollywood poured its collective heart out at the news Empire star Jussie Smollett had been the victim of a brutal homophobic and racist attack.
Now, nobody knows what to believe, amid reports Smollett may have orchestrated the attack.
The latest update in the strange saga is that Chicago police are seeking another interview with Smollett following the arrest and subsequent release of two men who are Extras on Empire.
“We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” a Chicago police spokesperson said.
“While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released,” the statement continued, “there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident.”
A lawyer for Smollett revealed the actor declined the police’s request.
“There are no plans for Jussie Smollett to meet with Chicago police today. Any news reports suggesting otherwise are inaccurate. Smollett’s attorneys will keep an active dialogue going with Chicago police on his behalf.”
This follows reports by US networks NBC and ABC that police sources believe Smollett paid the two men to stage the assault on him.
Smollett vehemently denies any such allegation.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the actor’s lawyer said.
“He has now been further victimised by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
Most of the celebrities who publicly supported Jussie after the incident have now gone quiet, anxiously waiting to see how the investigation unfolds. If Smollett is innocent, it’s horrific to think he’s being painted as a perpetrator in his own attack.
But the reports of evidence suggesting he at least partially orchestrated it just won’t go away.
Watch this space.