Thirty years ago, the action genre went through an evolution with the arrival of the original Lethal Weapon.
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That film, which brought the buddy cop film to the next level beyond movies like 48hrs. and Running Scared, introduced the world to iconic action heroes Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover), under the direction of Richard Donner. Riggs is a suicidal cop partnered with Murtaugh, who is close to retiring, with Riggs needing to learn to live again following the death of his wife and Murtaugh recognizing that retirement won't be all he's envisioned it to be. Beyond that, there's outrageous action and humor amongst the drama. The film also inspired the sequels Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992) and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), as well as a television version that debuted last season.
In a lot of ways, the idea of taking a big budget film series and turning it into a TV show seemed like a no-win scenario, but damn if they haven't all pulled it off with Clayne Crawford as Riggs and Damon Wayans as Murtaugh.
As Crawford explained to Radio Times, "Frankly, I wasn't interested in doing a show like this. Without even reading the script, I said I wasn't interested. I felt it was disrespectful to try and capture lightning in a bottle twice—that movie was so special, you couldn't duplicate it. I wished them well, said no... but, man, they were persistent."
Adds Wayans to Den of Geek, "I think Murtaugh's a guy who needs some excitement in his life... I had brain surgery. When you go through something like that where you think, 'Hey, this could be it,' when you come out and you're okay, you tend to live life a little scared. I think that's where Murtaugh's at. Riggs kind of helps him to have adventure every day, because that's what life is supposed to be."
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"The comedy is in Damon and I being the old couple bickering about everything," Crawford says. "Damon has got the best comic timing I've ever seen, which matches my heavy drama background perfectly. That bickering lends us so much freedom. Two human beings spend time together, wind each other up but have totally got each other's back."
Showrunner/executive producer Matt Miller is the creative force behind the show, and he shares with FHM the evolution of Lethal Weapon and the challenges of adapting it to the small screen.
Matt Miller: "I was talking to Warner Bros. about properties that they had that they were interested in me working on. Long story short, they were able to get the rights to Lethal Weapon for me before I even had a take on the material. They were definitely big movies for me when I was a kid. The first one really resonated the most with me; it was a little bit more about this broken guy in Riggs that just suffered the loss of his wife and was suicidal. The drama and the emotion of that was most appealing to me in terms of revamping the series. While we still have super-fun action sequences and all of that stuff, I like the idea of telling this story about a guy who really wants to be dead."