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Lee Daniels feels "beyond embarrassed" for defending Jussie Smollett

Daniels is opening up about his feelings towards Smollett.

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Lee Daniels is opening up about his feelings towards Jussie Smollett in a new interview with Vulture.

In the candid discussion, the 59-year-old filmmaker admitted he felt "beyond embarrassed" for defending the former "Empire" star after Smollett claimed he was involved in a hate crime earlier this year.

"I think that when it happened, I had a flash of me running from bullies. I had a flash of my whole life, of my childhood, my youth, getting beaten," Daniels recalled. He went on to say that he would feel betrayed if Smollett did orchestrate the attack. "Of course, there's some doubt. I'm telling you that because I love him so much," he told the outlet.

"That's the torture that I'm in right now, because it's literally if it were to happen to your son and your child, how would you feel? You would feel, 'Please, God, please let there be that glimmer of hope that there is some truth in this story.' That's why it's been so painful. It was a flood of pain," he added.

Elsewhere in his interview, Daniels revealed he had to "detach" himself and limit communication with Smollett for his mental and emotional health. "[I]t was taking away the time I have for my kids, the time I have for my partner. It was affecting my spirit and other shows, everything," he shared.

"If he didn't do it, he'd be Martin Luther King right now. He'd be some sort of god," Daniels stated, referring to reports that Smollett staged the racial and homophobic attack to boost his career.

The acclaimed director also said he believes Smollett's legal case played "a major part" in Fox's decision to end "Empire" after its upcoming sixth season. "But come on, man. I think that it's been a good run. "Empire" in its current iteration may be over, but "Empire" is far from over," he teased.

Read his full interview with Vulture here.

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