'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett hospitalized after attack; police investigating as possible hate crime

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has been hospitalized after allegedly being brutally attacked by two men early Tuesday morning in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

The Chicago Police Department told Fox News in a statement that a 36-year-old cast member from the television show "Empire" told them he was walking at 2:00 a.m. when he was approached by two unknown men who yelled out "racial and homophobic slurs."

Fox News can confirm the actor is Smollett.

Police also told Fox News on Tuesday evening that Smollett said the attackers yelled, “This is MAGA country.” Investigators said he gave the detail to detectives during a follow-up inquiry, not when he initially reported the incident to police. Further details were unclear.

According to police, the actor told them the men struck him in the face with their hands and poured an unknown chemical on him before wrapping a rope around his neck.

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Jussie Smollett, right, plays Jamal Lyon, the son of Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie, on Fox's "Empire."

Jussie Smollett, right, plays Jamal Lyon, the son of Taraji P. Henson's character, Cookie, on Fox's "Empire." (Fox via Getty)

The alleged victim was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he is being treated and is in good condition, police said.

"Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime," Chicago Police said in a statement. "Detectives are currently working to gather video, identify potential witnesses and establish an investigative timeline."

A rep for Smollett did not return Fox News' request for comment.

In a statement to Fox News, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said: “We are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our EMPIRE family, Jussie Smollett, was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate — and especially against one of our own.”

Smollett plays openly gay musician Jamal Lyon on the Fox series. The actor told Ellen DeGeneres in 2015 that he identifies as gay but does not discuss his personal life in public.

"I choose not to talk about my personal life. But there is without a doubt, no closet that I've ever been in, and I just wanted to make that clear. But it was most important for me to make that clear to you on your show at this time in the world.  And that's where I'm at," he shared.

According to Variety, Smollett was in Chicago to perform at a show on Saturday.

Fox News' Julius Young contributed to this report.