Jussie Smollett's 'Empire' co-star Terrence Howard says hate-crime hoax could have gotten 'very scary,' 'ugly'

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“Empire” actor Terrence Howard broke his silence on the verdict in his co-star Jussie Smollett’s high-profile case in Chicago.

Last week, Smollett was found guilty on 5 out of 6 charges at his hate crime hoax trial. After a contentious week of witness testimony, counsel arguments and deliberation, the jury found Smollett had indeed lied to police when he said he did not work with two siblings who worked on “Empire” to stage the attack on himself as a hate crime.

On Sunday evening, the Academy Award-nominated actor spoke about the verdict involving Smollett during an appearance on Mark Vargas’ “Mark My Words” radio show, where he noted that he looked at the entire trial in a different light given that he felt a paternal relationship with Smollett given the fact he played his son on “Empire.”

“It’s interesting, it’s an uncomfortable question because anyone that’s aware of the show or my relationship with Jussie would know that Jussie is, for six years, he was my son,” Howard explained. “He was my son that I had the most difficulty with on that show as far as the character world goes. So you end up getting very close to individuals that you have the most struggle with. Whose characters you have the most struggle with.”

Terrence Howard broke his silence on his ‘Empire’ co-star Jussie Smollett’s verdict.
(Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

He went on to note that there is still a lot of love between him and Smollett, explaining that his family “loves Jussie and I love Jussie.”

However, despite how he feels about Jussie Smollett the person, Howard made sure to note that he respects the jury’s decision and feels fans of him and the show should do the same.

“They judged him and found him guilty, 12 of them that judged from a completely unbiased position… you have to respect that,” he said of the jury.

Actor Jussie Smollett, center, leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse with unidentified siblings, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Chicago, following a verdict in his trial. Smollett was convicted Thursday on five of six charges he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself nearly three years ago and then lied to Chicago police about it.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The actor concluded his thoughts on the matter by noting that the small spark Smollett’s hate crime story created could have “set the world on fire.”

While he stopped short of admitting that Smollett faked the attack, he noted that if it were deemed to be true, it would have had an impact on the Black community in America.

“If they had gotten away with it, whoever orchestrated it. Whatever was set up. If they got away with it, then we would have the potential of Blacks feeling like they need to defend Black people against MAGA, and it could have turned into something very, very scary and very ugly,” he said. “People would have gotten hurt and killed and if that was the case, the blood on someone’s hands would have been massive.”

Jussie Smollett was found guilty on 5 of 6 counts in his hoax hate crime case. 
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Howard concluded: “I’m very glad that it’s over.”

However, it’s possible that the case isn’t over. Ahead of sentencing, Smollett’s attorney told reporters that they “100 percent” plan to appeal the ruling. 

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