Jussie Smollett Returns to Work on 'Empire' After Judge Sets $100,000 Bail and Orders His Passport Surrendered

Actor Jussie Smollett has returned to work on the set of television series Empire after facing a bond hearing over his alleged role in his own January 29 attack, an anonymous source told The New York Times.

Smollett traveled straight to the set after posting a $100,000 bond, Deadline Hollywood reported. A Cook County judge also ordered the actor to surrender his passport at the hearing Thursday.

There are still two episodes left to wrap for Empire's fifth season, The Times reported. The show's network Fox said Thursday it was "evaluating the situation," and that it understood "the seriousness of this matter."

Back in January, the actor told police two masked men assaulted him as they shouted racist and homophobic slurs, and told him "This is MAGA country." Smollett claimed the men threw a chemical substance on him and placed a noose around his neck.

But two brothers arrested on suspicion of involvement in the case—Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who reportedly worked on Empire—later claimed the actor paid them to attack him. They were subsequently released.

Initially investigated as a hate crime, police now accuse Smollett of staging the event "to promote his career." He was taken into police custody Thursday facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct and released after the hearing later that day.

In a bond proffer, shared online by Variety and others, prosecutors claim Smollett gave Abimbola $100 to purchase rope, ski masks and other items allegedly linked to the attack. The actor coached the brothers on how to use the items during the staged attack, as well as what to yell, prosecutors claim. Smollett allegedly gave them a backdated $3500 check the morning of January 28.

A number of high profile celebrities and politicians defended Smollett after initial reports of the attack emerged, including Democratic 2020 candidate Kamala Harris who called it an attempted "modern day lynching." But the tide of public opinion quickly turned as unusual details about the case emerged.

Speaking to press Thursday morning, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson told reporters: "Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career. I'm left hanging my head and asking 'Why? Why would anyone, especially an African American man use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?'"

"How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?" he continued, visibly angry. "How could an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?"

In a statement submitted to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday night, Smollett's lawyers said: "Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system. The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett."

The actor, the statement continued, "fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."

Jessie Smollett, Empire Set
Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images