Jussie Smollett is branching out of “Empire” for a new opportunity on a different kind of TV drama. Heading back in time, the actor best known for his role as the middle Lyon child Jamal, is going to try his hand at historical fiction in the new WGN drama, “Underground.” Even better news: Smollett will join his sister on the cast.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the “Empire” star will trade in his mic for mid-1800s garbs alongside his sister, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, in a new drama about the Underground Railroad which helped slaves from the South find safety in the North from their owners. Both Jussie and Jurnee will play slaves on the WGN series. If the name Jurnee Smollett-Bell looks familiar, it’s because the recent “True Blood” star also had stints on other popular TV shows like “Friday Night Lights” and “Full House.”
TVLine reports Jussie Smollett will have a guest role as Josey, a distrustful runaway weary of those stationed at the Underground Railroad posts. His sister will portray Rosalee, a timid house slave who finds strength within herself.
The outlet notes this is the first time in 20 years that brother and sister shared the screen since “On Our Own.” Other cast members for “Underground” will include “Law & Order: SVU” alum Christopher Meloni, “Agents of SHIELD” actor Reed Diamond and “Arrow” star Jessica De Gouw.
But don’t fret, “Empire” fans. Jussie Smollett is currently hard at work putting the finishing touches on the “Empire” Season 2 soundtrack with Ne-Yo and Timbaland. Showrunner and director Lee Daniels has been regularly sharing updates and photos from the set, which kicked off filming with guest star Chris Rock and Lucious Lyon himself, Terrence Howard.
Is there a sibling crossover planned for “Empire” Season 2? Could Jurnee Smollett-Bell make a guest star appearance on the hit Fox drama? And if so, will she have to go through Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) first?
“Underground” is expected to premiere in 2016. “Empire” Season 2 kicks off on Fox on Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. EST.