‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett set to give 1st TV interview since attack
NEW YORK — “Empire” star Jussie Smollett admits to feeling frustrated and angry in his first TV interview since he reported being attacked on the streets of Chicago.
In a preview clip of what will air Thursday on “Good Morning America,” Smollett says the aftermath of the attack, which police are investigating as a possible hate crime, has left him feeling “pissed off.”
Prompted by Roberts to elaborate, he said some of his anger is toward his alleged attackers but also those who have cast doubt on his story.
“It’s like, you know, at first, it was a thing of, like, ‘Listen, if I tell the truth then that’s it, because it’s the truth.’ Then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? Like, how do you — how do you not believe that? It’s the truth,'” he said.
Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” Smollett said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.
The 36-year-old “Empire” actor and musician identifies as gay and plays a gay character on the series.
Smollett and his manager, Brandon Moore, told authorities they were speaking on the phone with each other at the time of the attack, Chicago police said.
On Monday, police said it received “limited and redacted phone records” from Smollett and were planning to analyze them.
“Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police,” a spokesperson for Smollett said in a statement Tuesday. “Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible. Superintendent Johnson has been clear from day one that Jussie is a victim. We are continuing to work closely with the Chicago PD and remain confident that they will find Jussie’s attackers and bring them to justice.”
“Any redacted information was intended to protect the privacy of personal contacts or high-profile individuals not relevant to the attack,” Smollett’s rep added.
Smollett made his first public appearance and performance since the attack on February 2.
During his concert at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood, Smollett told fans that he was “not fully healed yet.”
He said his ribs were bruised during the attack and while he did immediately see a physician, he was not hospitalized.
After the attack, Smollett released a statement saying his body was “strong but my soul is stronger.” He also nodded to the doubts some have cast on his account.
“I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” Smollett added. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”
Smollett’s family also issued a statement, condemning the attack, calling it a “racial and homophobic hate crime.”
“Jussie has told the police everything from the very beginning,” the statement read. “His story has never changed, and we are hopeful they will find these men and bring them to justice.”
Chicago police have released photos of persons who they believe could have information about the attack and have asked for the public’s help in identifying who they are.