Jussie Smollett was accused of allegedly filing a false report claiming two men attacked him in an apparent hate crime

By Aurelie Corinthios
April 04, 2019 01:55 PM

Taraji P. Henson gave a brief update on Jussie Smollett for the first time since the criminal charges against him were dropped last month.

Appearing on The View Thursday, the actress said she had spoken to her Empire costar and that he is “doing well.”

“I talk to Jussie all the time. And he’s doing well,” she said. “We’re all doing well. The show is doing well. We’re on hiatus right now. The writers are trying to figure out what the next season is going to look like, what our storyline is going to be. They’re trying to drum up some really good juicy stuff for you guys.”

Asked if Smollett was “definitely going to be on the show,” Henson said yes.

“Yes. I haven’t heard anything else,” she said. “I haven’t heard anything.”

RELATED: Will Jussie Smollett Be Back on Empire? Why His Future on the Show Remains Uncertain

Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Smollett, 36, had been indicted with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming two men attacked him in an apparent hate crime in January.

The actor, who faced intense scrutiny and backlash, had pleaded not guilty to allegations that he lied to police when he said he was attacked in what authorities later claimed was a staged incident draw attention to himself.

At the end of March, all charges against Smollett were suddenly dropped, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE in a statement: “After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”

The office did not, however, fully retreat from its initial decision to bring charges against Smollett or otherwise address PEOPLE’s inquiry on whether prosecutors still believe he staged the attack, saying in a followup statement: “We stand by the Chicago Police Department’s investigation and our approval of charges.”

RELATED: Police, Mayor Slam Decision to Drop Charges Against Jussie Smollett: ‘Whitewash of Justice’

Smollett’s attorneys released a statement to PEOPLE after the charges were dropped, saying, “Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him. Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”

“Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions,” the statement continued. “This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion. This is wrong. It is a reminder that the victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.”

RELATED: City of Chicago Demands Jussie Smollett Pay $130,000 to Cover Overtime for Police Investigation

Before the charges were dropped, Smollett’s character on Empire was removed from the final two episodes of season 5 to “avoid further disruption on set,” the Fox show’s executive producers previously said in a statement.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Brett Mahoney admitted the scandal was an “emotional roller coaster” for the cast and crew.

“You have someone in your family who’s going through this, while at the same time, we’re shooting the final episodes of the season, which are also just heightened emotionally,” he said. “So it was a lot to deal with and a lot to go through, but we’re really just focused on finishing strong.”

RELATED: What’s Next for Jussie Smollett — and Why He Isn’t Exonerated for Staging Alleged Hate Crime

Mahoney also said they haven’t made any decisions regarding Smollett’s future on the show as they awaited the legal process to play out.

“It’s too early to think about what we would have to do if we didn’t have Jussie,” he said. “We have such a strong ensemble and we have so many stories to tell for all of these fascinating characters that it’s bigger than one character, but it’s too early to think about the show without him.”

Empire airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.

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