On Tuesday, production vehicles for Empire's sixth and final season were spotted in Streeterville, Chicago, the area where Smollett claims he was attacked by racist, homophobic Trump-supporters. Several residents and local journalists shared photos of the filming notice as well as shots of the production crew right outside Smollett's East North Water Street apartment.
Empire is currently filming its sixth and final season without Smollett, who portrayed Jamal Lyon since the series' 2015 premiere. Back in June, the show's co-creator Lee Daniels confirmed the 37-year-old actor would not return for the final season, despite having doubts about the claims against Smollett.
"Of course, there's some doubt. I’m telling you that because I love him so much," Daniels told Vulture. "That’s the torture that I’m in right now, because it’s literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story. That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain."
In late January, Smollett told police he was attacked on the streets of Chicago by two masked men who beat him and tied a rope around his neck while shouting racial and homophobic slurs. Chicago authorities later accused Smollett of orchestrating the attack as a way to further his career; however, he was eventually cleared of lying to police.
Smollett is now being sued by the City of Chicago for costs accrued in the investigation. The actor is seeking to have case dismissed.