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?
CRAWFORD: I think [it comes from] a lot of the place that comedy comes from in real comedians, I think you hide behind it, so I think it’s his way of diverting from reality and having to deal with the situation. Because he feels extremely vulnerable when he’s in an honest place, so I think it’s all an act. And I told the guys, “If I play this, I can’t just be kooky-crazy. I have to be a man who’s broken, who plays kooky-crazy to keep people away from him.”
AX: How does Riggs feel about dragging Murtaugh into dangerous situations with him, given that Murtaugh had a heart attack in the not-distant past?
CRAWFORD: Right. I think Riggs is extremely competent in his skill set, and I think he knows if the situation gets too hairy, that he’s going to leave Murtaugh in the car, push him to the side, and make sure that he’s safe. So I think it all comes from Riggs’ confidence.
AX: What movie are you doing for Legendary?
CRAWFORD: I did a film called SPECTRAL, with Nic Mathieu directing, and it’s Max Martini, James Badge Dale and Emily Mortimer. We shot it in Budapest and I think the release date is some time in October, so very excited about that.
AX: How do you feel about the wrapping up of RECTIFY?
CRAWFORD: It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? I’m grateful that [RECTIFY creator/show runner] Ray McKinnon was able to tell his story without being hindered by ratings or it just ending, which is how series [often end] – you just get a phone call you’re not coming back. I’m grateful that Ray was able to tell his story, and I’m grateful that I was able to have the arc that I had. But look, I love Ray McKinnon, I love my cast with all my heart. We shot in Georgia, which is like forty-two miles – it took me two hours from my home in Alabama. It’s been a dream five years for me. So I’m grateful, but certainly sad.
I don’t know if that show could get made today, and I know it couldn’t have been made ten years ago. I think we had a perfect window, and Sundance was really ready to try something new, and we got lucky. And what [Sundance executives] Sarah Condon did and then Charlie Collier coming on after that was remarkable, and the support they showed us – look, it’s obvious from the fact that they let Ray do six [episodes in the first season], then he did ten [in second season], then he wanted to go back and do six [for third season], and then he did eight for the final season. No one lets you do that. These control freaks in this business, the suits, they want to run everything. They let Ray do his job, and that’s why I think it’s one of the greatest shows ever made.
[With LETHAL WEAPON], I’m enjoying the opportunity to entertain a larger group of individuals.