ASSIGNMENT X – Clayne Crawford is having a wonderful fall season. The actor from Alabama stars in Fox Networks’ new Wednesday-night action series LETHAL WEAPON, which premiered September 21. Based on the feature film franchise, LETHAL WEAPON has Crawford cast as dangerously daredevil – and heartbroken – L.A.P.D. cop Martin Riggs, opposite Damon Wayans’ more cautious fellow police detective Roger Murtaugh. Then, On October 26, Crawford will be back as troubled Ted “Teddy” Talbot Jr. on Sundance TV’s fourth and final season of RECTIFY.
ASSIGNMENT X: Were you looking to do another series once RECTIFY wrapped, or were you looking to stay home with the family for a little while?
CLAYNE CRAWFORD: Me and my wife laughed. It was a lot when I was struggling, trying to get work, which is most of your career. We would plan a vacation, and inevitably, I would get a phone call to go do a job, right? So I told my wife, “February. I’m going to finish RECTIFY, it’s the final season, I’ve got a movie coming out with Legendary, let’s take six months off.” We’ve been remodeling my farmhouse for three years. “Let’s just really enjoy the property and let’s wait for the best job ever. And I don’t know what that is.” I’d love to go work for HBO, I thought maybe Netflix.
Three days later, that man [points to his agent, Paul Santana] called my phone. “Fox wants you.” “No, no, I’m good.” I genuinely wanted to do nothing, but when I read the material, I felt like it was the chance of a lifetime. Even if we failed, I just wanted to play that role and show people I had a little bit of comedy chops.
AX: Riggs is coping with tremendous personal tragedy. Is he just able to close off and have a veneer of humor? If not, where does the comedy come from?
ESQUIRE – The Lethal Weapon star talks about creating a new version of the character on the TV reboot.
If Clayne Crawford is known to television audiences at all its for his work on Rectify, the bet-you-can’t-watch-just-one SundanceTV family drama where tensions are slowly popping up from below the surface like a just-baked apple pie. There, he plays Teddy, an honors graduate from the Pete Campbell School for Irritating Douchbags who is not as over the moon as other family members that his stepbrother Daniel (Aden Young) has been released from Death Row.
This all might change for Crawford, as he is now starring in Fox’s televised reboot of Lethal Weapon. Premiering September 21, Crawford plays Martin Riggs, the reckless and brilliant cop with an actual death wish who was made famous by Mel Gibson in the 1987 action movie. (Damon Wayans Sr. plays the Danny Glover part).
In real life, Crawford is much the old-school Southern gentleman who lives with his family on a farm in Alabama. He was late for his phone interview with Esquire because he was talking to his grandfather. “The VA just gave him new hearing aids,” he apologized. “He was extremely excited that he could hear me and we could have a conversation. Wrapping that up was not an option.”
He also talked about the end of Rectify, which begins its final season on October 26, and the requirements for his new show (read: fame, car chases, and nude scenes).
Lethal Weapon’s Riggs is very different part from Rectify’s Teddy. What interested you in it?
EW – The Lethal Weapon franchise is known for its buddy cop shenanigans, explosive action, and a profane catch phrase about the indignities of aging. But Fox’s new small-screen reboot — starring Clayne Crawford as loose cannon Riggs and Damon Wayans as straight arrow Murtaugh — also has an undercurrent of melancholy.
In a recent video interview with EW, several cast members opened up about the series, with the help of some randomly selected keywords. Believe it or not, one of the most apt was heartbreak.
“It is heartbreaking at times, and I think that’s what makes the show fun,” Crawford said. “Obviously there’s stuff that goes boom, and there’s funny antics [but] we try to ground it in as much truth [as possible], and sometimes that can be extremely heartbreaking.”
TV INSIDER – As far as film-to-TV adaptations go, recent history includes the great (Fargo!) and the not-so-great (sorry, Rush Hour). But network execs aren’t stopping the remake train anytime soon, since familiar titles often bring built-in audiences.
First up this fall: Fox’s Lethal Weapon. Based on the iconic 1987 action movie starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, the small-screen reboot takes its own spin on what happens when by-the-book detective Roger Murtaugh (now played by My Wife and Kids’ Damon Wayans) teams with loose-cannon cop Martin Riggs (Rectify’s Clayne Crawford). “There’s a tremendous difference between these two guys,” says executive producer Matt Miller (Forever, The 100) of the bickering partners. “But like with any good relationship, the chemistry comes exactly because they don’t have the same characteristics.”
Another big difference: the level of violence in today’s world compared to the 1980s, when the film came out. But how do you go about making a crime drama responsibly without softening the fight between good and evil on the streets of Los Angeles? Fox chairman Dana Walden has said the network is conscious of keeping the violence in context. (To start, they removed guns from the show’s promotional poster.)
Just don’t assume that this Lethal Weapon will be a tame one. Expect action sequences that are beyond your typical cop drama, says Miller. In the pilot, for example, Murtaugh and Riggs end up in a high-speed chase that collides with an in-progress Grand Prix race on an actual Southern California track. “We were trying to figure out a way to create something nobody had seen before,” he says. Mission accomplished. Wayans and Crawford filled us in on tackling those wild action scenes as well as crafting what they hope will be TV’s next best odd couple.
What did you both think when you initially heard about the project? Any reservations?
Wayans: I went in to pitch Peter Roth, the head of Warner Bros. Television, a sitcom. And he said, “Before you pitch, let me throw out two words: Lethal Weapon.” So I put my idea on the back burner and said, “Send me the script.” I read it and just loved it. Then I met with producer Matt Miller and he told me how wonderful I was and that Sinbad had passed and would I do it? I thought Matt was really charming and had a very clever take on not just the stories but the characters.
Crawford: I didn’t want to know anything more about the project when I first heard…and then I read the material. Matt Miller did such a wonderful job with the script—it was a nice tribute to what [original screenwriter] Shane Black created so many years ago. It honored the movie without mimicking it, and I thought that was really, really special.
Move over Mel Gibson, there’s a new Riggs in town.
TV LINE – Fox’s upcoming Lethal Weapon series, based on the ’80s movie franchise of the same name, stars Clayne Crawford (Rectify) as Martin Riggs and Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids) as Roger Murtaugh. The drama, which follows an unconventional cop with a death wish (Riggs) after he is partnered with a high-strung, traditional detective and family man (Murtaugh), is set to premiere Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 8/7c.
Crawford recently talked to TVLine about what fans can expect from the new show (and what The Avengers might have to do with it), crazy stunts and more.
HIS NAME IS NO | Alabama native Crawford says he initially turned down the role many times, namely because it was a remake that didn’t “leave time for a lot of fishing and horseback riding.” But after he read the script… “It starts with Matt Miller (Forever). He wrote a great script… I started reading this thing and I’m like, ‘F—k, how do I say no?’ [Riggs is] broken. I love playing broken people, but he’s also a badass, and I really like being a badass,” he explains. The idea of bringing something fresh to the character also sparked his interest. “I thought there was a real challenge, like there is when you do theater, playing these roles that we’ve seen people play a 100 times and bringing something new to it,” he says. “This obviously is not [King] Lear, but I was like ‘What can I do differently with Riggs, that Mel Gibson didn’t do?’”
A NEW BROMANCE TO ROOT FOR | Crawford and Wayans’ very watchable chemistry means “there’s going to be a lot of shenanigans,” Crawford says. “I think the beauty is, Damon and I really like one other and the banter’s easy, because he’s a f—king pro.” While trouble-making pair is going to find themselves in a lot of sticky situations throughout the season, there will not be a lack of laughs. “I think the whole goal is to bring comedy, drama and action, [like] The Avengers. I just need a cape,” Crawford jokes.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR | In the series premiere, we learn Riggs has a late wife, but will the eccentric cop find love again during the course of the series? “I think at some point they’re going to try to incorporate some kind of love interest… And it would be crazy if it was Jordana [Brewster],” he teased about his character’s relationship with Dr. Maureen “Mo” Cahill, played by the Dallas/Fast and the Furious actress.
STUNTS, STUNTS, STUNTS | Car chases, shootouts and explosions, oh my! If the first episode, which features stunts like Riggs jumping from one speeding car to another, is any indication, Lethal Weapon will be full of action and Crawford is up for the challenge. “Warner Bros. would not allow me to make the jump [off of the car onto the ground]… but everything else, 100 percent me,” he says. —Reporting by Kimberly Roots
DIGITAL SPY – “If you don’t like extraordinary television, it’s not for you.”
Digital Spy put the question to lead actor Aden Young: if someone hasn’t watched Rectify before, why should they tune in now?
His answer may surprise you – but it’ll certainly leave you itching to binge the entire series!
Clayne Crawford – soon to be seen playing Riggs in Fox’s Lethal Weapon TV series – also recalls the first time he read the pilot script for Rectify in DS’s exclusive clip.
The award-winning Rectify tells the story of Daniel Holden (Young) – imprisoned as a teenager for the rape and murder of his 16-year-old girlfriend, Hanna.
After spending 19 years on death row, new DNA evidence vacates his original trial and Daniel must adjust to life back on the outside.
THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS -Fans of Sundance TV’s simmering Southern Gothic saga Rectify will be champing at the bit to see what happens in the upcoming fourth season. For the time being however they’ll no doubt console themselves with the home entertainment release of Season 3. The show stars Aden Young as the wrongly-convicted Daniel Holden, whose return to his home community pricks the web of family secrets which form the core of this highly-acclaimed drama.
One of its most memorable characters is Daniel’s tortured step brother Teddy, played by Clayne Crawford. Crawford has earned plaudits for his portrayal of the complex clan member and if you don’t know his name, you may well do by the time the year is out: he’s also been cast as the new Martin Riggs in Fox’s small screen reimagining of Lethal Weapon.
We got on the phone with Crawford for a frank conversation about working in an intense environment and his thoughts on taking over from Mel Gibson…
For the benefit of people who might be thinking of jumping aboard, how would you sum up the premise and the journey your character Teddy’s been on so far?
Goodness! The show is an in-depth exploration of family, and certainly a family that is captured in time, in that moment when Daniel comes back into the picture. I think it places a dark cloud over this family. We observe these people trying to navigate one another, with Daniel and the situation and the town. I think that lends itself to great drama and suspense.
As far as Teddy goes, you know… poor Teddy! He’s just a mess isn’t he? So vulnerable, so insecure, so self aware, so concerned with others’ perceptions of him. Exhausting to play, but extremely rewarding at the same time. I love Teddy, I feel for him. I just want to give him a hug.
What’s been the most difficult aspect of that character to play over the past three years?
Look, Teddy is everything we don’t wanna be. Right? We as human beings spend our entire lives either trying to correct or trying to hide things. And Teddy is just a fucking open wound at all times, clinging onto the edge of a cliff which is his reality, and just trying to hold onto everything that he loves because at the end of the day he’s a little boy that never had enough love. He lost his mother at a young age, his father was never really a part of his life. His father now meets this new woman who has other children, his step sister hates him, he has a step brother who is in prison who he doesn’t know and doesn’t understand. And then as soon as he’s started to find his way this new Mom has a new child, the new baby is a distraction and Teddy again is left in the cold. I think he’s desperately looking for love and companionship and just to have something because he’s never had anything.
He desperately tries to do everything that he feels is right… even in the first season, bringing Daniel the pornography magazine. That was an olive branch! That was Teddy’s way of saying “Hey, welcome to the family, I want us to get along.” And it’s always taken the wrong way. So I see Teddy as someone who’s extremely broken, and used his perfect hair and his perfect clothes and his big red truck and all these things as a distraction from who he is, which is a sad little boy.
Season 4 of “Rectify” will mark the end of the show’s run on SundanceTV, and Clayne Crawford hopes that his character will go out with a bang.
“Teddy has had such a rough go at it, you know?” Crawford told TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell. “I would like there to be something redeeming for Teddy. Maybe for him to kill Tawney, and then him end up in prison. Why not, you know? It would be exciting!”
The actor, a nominee for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards, was recently cast in David E. Kelly’s new drama “Trial” for Amazon opposite Billy Bob Thornton and William Hurt.