Rumer Willis, who had a guest arc on Empire last year, said recent developments in the case are "very shocking"

By Aurelie Corinthios
February 21, 2019 01:59 PM
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Jussie Smollett was accused of allegedly filing a false report claiming two men attacked him in an apparent hate crime last month, and his former costar Rumer Willis was asked about the situation on Thursday morning.

Willis, who had a guest arc on Empire last year, addressed the news after Chicago police held a press conference in which they alleged Smollett paid $3,500 to stage a “bogus” attack against him to draw attention to himself because he was dissatisfied with his salary.

“I just think it’s a really devastating situation for everybody involved,” she told Access while discussing her elimination and unveiling on The Masked Singer. “I don’t really know what to say about all of it. I just think it’s really devastating.”

Asked if there were any signs of tension or disagreement between Smollett, 36, and Empire executives, Willis, 30, said she’s too removed to shed any light on the situation.

“I haven’t been on the show in over a year,” she said. “I had a great time doing the show, but I’ve been kind of very separate from the whole thing for a while.”

Still, she added that the news is “very shocking.”

rumer-willis
Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Angela Weiss/Getty

Outside of Willis, the cast of Empire has largely remained silent since the most recent developments in the case. Gabourey Sidibe, who has played Becky Williams on the Fox show since 2015, spoke out in support of Smollett on Instagram on Wednesday, but she has since deleted her post. (“I know him, I believe him, I stand with him,” she originally said.)

In a statement issued after Thursday’s press conference, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said: “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

Smollett, who is black and gay, is facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct. If convicted, he could serve up to three years in prison. He was arrested on Thursday morning, one day after he was charged.

His bond hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT Thursday.

On Wednesday, the actor and his legal team said they are gearing up to launch an “aggressive defense” in light of the charge.

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”