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Lethal Weapon, Fox
Google the word swagger and you may find an image of Clayne Crawford.
After two seasons as manipulative Ted Talbot, Jr., in SundanceTV’s under-recognized drama Rectify, Crawford tackles Martin Riggs — a character made famous by Mel Gibson in Richard Donner’s 1987 buddy action film, Lethal Weapon, and its three sequels.
What’s more, he makes the familiar part his own. Comparisons may be inevitable, but they’re unnecessary. The story doesn’t differ much from the movie: Riggs is an unpredictable, unstable war hero with a suicidal streak who lost his very pregnant wife in a car accident.
Now, as an L.A. cop, he’s partnered with middle-aged family man Roger Murtaugh (an excellent Damon Wayans), with whom he butts heads, yet grudgingly bonds. Equal parts Marlboro Man and street smartass, Crawford brings a reckless renegade edge to the role, with just enough sulky sex appeal to make him both volatile and vulnerable.
Born and bred in Alabama, he plays Riggs as an all-American casualty with a heart of gold — more Steve McQueen than Mel Gibson. And there’s enough comic banter, generational conflict and macho pride between the two leads to keep this bro-cedural crackling with humor as well as action. And lest we forget, McQueen got his start on television, too.
Note: He has actually been in three season of Rectify with this being the fourth.
NY TIMES – For decades, television has been cop, judge, jury and jailer. Police and courtroom dramas are a mainstay; a few series, like “Orange Is the New Black,” have explored prison life. But “Rectify,” a drama entering its final season on SundanceTV on Wednesday, is exceptional in being concerned with what comes after prison, for ex-convicts, for their families, for an entire community.
In the first episode of the new season, Daniel Holden (Aden Young), who has been released from prison after 19 years, describes what the incarceration did to him. “When you are alone with yourself all the time,” he says, “you begin to go deeper and deeper into yourself until you lose yourself.”
“Rectify,” created by Ray McKinnon, is a small series; it has shown a mere 22 episodes in three seasons and will have eight in its final run. But by focusing on a small world and pacing itself deliberately, it manages to be both intimate and expansive.
Slowing down time — the first season takes place over about a week — “Rectify” is a meditative work of reconstruction, with a visual sense of wonder, as if the camera, too, had been released into the world after two decades staring at four walls.
The series begins with Daniel’s return home to the fictional Paulie, Ga., after DNA evidence vacates his conviction for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend, Hanna Dean. He’s free but not exonerated, and he finds himself unequipped for freedom. Having spent his entire adult life under a regime, he’s paralyzed by simple things like a visit to a big-box store.
The show traces his transition, and that of his family: his mother, Janet (J. Smith-Cameron), who resents the years lost with her son; his sister, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), who fiercely defends Daniel’s innocence; his stepbrother, Teddy (Clayne Crawford), who doubts him; and Teddy’s wife, Tawney (Adelaide Clemens), a deeply religious woman whose sympathy for Daniel draws her close to him and drives a wedge between herself and her husband.
This wonderful series — wrapping up its run with its new season — understands the South in a way TV rarely does.
In the deeply emotional Sundance family drama, Young plays Daniel Holden, a newly exonerated death row inmate who re-enters society after nearly two decades in prison. On the day his wife called looking for him, he’d found the character hard to shake and had been standing on a street corner for four hours; as Young recounts the experience, it’s with the wry smirk he wears even when telling the most devastating story imaginable.
“I couldn’t move,” he says. “I was petrified that I was going to fall over. I was absolutely fine. I was healthy. My kids were healthy. I had a beautiful wife. For the first time in my career, I think, I even managed to pay off one of the credit cards. And yet Daniel was there, just going, ‘Don’t move. It all hurts, and if you move, it will hurt more.’ Like when you have a bad back. I was afraid to turn my head. I was afraid I would see through the façade.”
It sounds weird, I know — like the kind of mystical mumbo jumbo actors sometimes tell reporters to make themselves sound profound. But I know from having talked to Young several times over the course of Rectify’s run — the show’s fourth and final season debuts on Sundance Wednesday, October 26 — that he takes this character and this world seriously. And not in a self-important or self-involved way; that’s just the effect Rectify has on those involved in it, and its tiny coterie of devoted fans.
Young’s solution to his Daniel problem was simple: Build the character a guesthouse in his head where Daniel could go to live in between seasons.
“I knew he was there. I’d occasionally take him things, but I wouldn’t see him. Then Sundance would email me, and I’d go and check on him,” he says.
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?