“Empire” director Lee Daniels finally opened up about his thoughts regarding Jussie Smollett’s fake hate-crime case.
The 59-year-old film and television producer said he is “beyond embarrassed” for initially supporting Smollett in a Tuesday interview with Vulture magazine.
“I’m beyond embarrassed. I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten,” Daniels said. (RELATED: Police Chief ‘Furious’ At Smollett Case Dismissal)
The director initially backed the 36-year-old disgraced actor before reports surfaced that he allegedly faked a hate crime hoax against himself in order to increase his salary on the show. (RELATED: Jussie Smollett’s Episode of ‘Drop The Mic’ Has Been Pulled)
Daniels also said, however, that he still has “some doubt” about whether Smollett made the whole thing up or not. (Realted: Jussie Smollett Vacations in Hawaii After Charges Dropped)
“Of course, there’s some doubt,” the director shared. “I’m telling you that because I love him so much. 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?” (RELATED: Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped)
“You would feel: ‘Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story,'” he added. “That’s why it’s been so painful. It was a flood of pain.”
At one point, Daniels appeared to dodge the question about whether he thinks it was a “hoax” or not, saying, “We weren’t there. I can’t judge [Smollett]. That’s only for the fucking lady or man with that black robe and God. I had to detach myself and stop calling him, because it was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything.”
Earlier this month, Daniels made headlines when he denied reports that Smollett might be back on the show at some point in the sixth and final season.
“Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire,” the producer tweeted.
@Variety @JoeOtterson This is not factual. Jussie will NOT be returning to Empire. -LD
— lee daniels (@leedanielsent) June 4, 2019
As previously reported, Smollett initially claimed he was attacked on the streets of his home in Chicago by two men who he said threw a rope around his neck and poured a bleach-like substance on him. They also reportedly yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
By the end of the investigation, however, police concluded the attack on the “Empire” star was a hoax. Soon after, he was arrested and faced 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false police report.
Soon after, all charges against him were dropped by the State Attorney’s office.