Jussie Smollett sat down for his first TV interview since his reported Chicago attack last month, telling “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts that he is “pissed off.”
In a preview for the segment, which is set to air Thursday, the “Empire” star is seen giving a tearful account of the attack he reported to authorities, an incident Chicago police have described as a possible hate crime that was racially motivated and homophobic.
When Roberts asks if at anytime during the attack he feared for his life, the musician is seen breaking into tears.
The 36-year-old has previously addressed the incident — which roiled advocates nationwide because it reportedly involved a chemical being poured on the actor and a noose being put around his neck — through his publicist and while performing at the Troubadour earlier this month. But Thursday’s interview will be his first time detailing the events to the public on camera.
In a separate clip released Wednesday morning, Smollett told Roberts that he’s “pissed off” at the attackers — and by the subsequent attacks from those who doubt 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,” Smollett said. “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.’ And then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, it’s not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth, you don’t even want to see the truth.’”
While Smollett has been cooperating with Chicago police, investigators recently rejected his phone records as evidence because they “do not meet the burden for a criminal investigation as they were limited and heavily redacted,” a spokesperson for the department told The Times on Wednesday.
Detectives might be following up with Smollett to request additional data to corroborate the investigative timeline. Meanwhile, his neighbors and other reports have also cast doubt on his account.
Smollett responded to skepticism about his account with a new statement on Tuesday, saying that redacted information was meant to protect his privacy and contact information for other individuals not relevant to the attack.
“Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible,” his reps told The Times, clarifying that Smollett has always been a victim in the case.
“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,” the statement said.
Read Smollett’s full statement below:
“Jussie is the victim here, which has been stated by the Superintendent of Police. Jussie has voluntarily provided his phone records from within an hour of the attack and given multiple statements to police. Chicago PD has repeatedly informed us that they find Jussie’s account of what happened that night consistent and credible. Superintendent [Eddie T.] 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.”