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.
Continue reading Lethal Weapon: Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford on Bringing Riggs and Murtaugh to TV