Boardwalk Empire Finale Fallout: What's the Real Story Behind [Spoiler]'s Shocking Exit?

[The following story contains spoilers from Sunday’s Boardwalk Empire finale. Proceed at your own risk.]

Back in October, our sister site Deadline.com reported that Boardwalk Empire co-lead Michael Pitt was fired by his longtime agent “because he’s really difficult on set and otherwise.”

Cut to this past Sunday: Empire fans are reeling from the shocking death of Pitt’s character, Jimmy Darmody, in the show’s Season 2 finale.

Is there a connection? Did Empire whack its second biggest star because of backstage problems? Or did the storyline simply demand it?

Exec producer Terrence Winter says it’s the latter, maintaining in an interview with EW.com that Pitt’s ouster was a creative decision.

“[It’s] absolutely not true,” he says. “Michael is a total professional. He’s intense, of course, but I don’t think you can do that job without being intense.”

Winter said the decision to kill off Jimmy was made “at the beginning of Season 2,” adding, “The idea was to try and push things to their absolute limit, even if it makes it difficult for yourself and your writing team. If you take things to their logical extreme with the situation we created, Jimmy has betrayed Nucky, he tried to have him killed. You want to be honest about the storytelling… Anything short of Nucky [killing Jimmy] wouldn’t feel real, it wouldn’t be real. And it would be a cheat for us to say, ‘We want to keep our beloved character Jimmy Darmody alive.'”

For his part, Pitt shrugged off the rumors surrounding his behavior on set. ”I’m confident that I will be judged by my performance,” he told EW.com, “and not by the ‘he said, she said.’”