Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been targeted in a suspected racist and homophobic attack that saw two men wrap a rope around his neck and pour an unknown substance over him, police have said.
The reported attack in Chicago is being treated as a possible hate crime, with the 35-year-old African-American star, who is gay, having had to check himself into hospital.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: “Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime.”
Both attackers fled the scene following the incident, which TMZ reported happened in the early hours of Tuesday as the actor left a Subway store.
According to his Instagram page, Smollett had not long been in the city after arriving from New York.
Late on Monday, a video posted to his profile showed him taking off from LaGuardia Airport, followed by smiling selfie upon the flight touching down at around 2am local time.
Smollett – who starred in Disney sports comedy The Mighty Ducks at the age of 10 – has not commented on the incident, but police said he was in “good condition”.
He has received widespread acclaim for his role in Fox drama Empire, in which he plays Jamal Lyon, the gay son of a music mogul.
In a profanity-laden Instagram video, Lee Daniels, co-creator of the show, said: “We have to love each other, regardless of what sexual orientation we are, because it shows that we are united. Hold your head up Jussie.”
Fellow co-creator Danny Strong added on Twitter: “The terror of racism and homophobia has no place in our society, it is the most indecent way to live.”