When Lethal Weapon makes the jump from fan-favorite film to shiny-and-new TV series, Martin Riggs is going to be a wildly different sort of man. And not just because he won’t be played by Mel Gibson.
One of the biggest changes in FOX’s reboot of the iconic film—premiering September 21—is an updated Martin Riggs. The FOX series stars Clayne Crawford as a much more “grounded, broken” version of the reckless, suicidal member of the LAPD. (Read: so way, way less cocaine usage.)
“In the films he was also doing cocaine, which jacked things up a little bit,” Crawford said at the 2016 Summer TCA press tour. “This is FOX and family hour, so no cocaine. I was playing just the sadness more. If I lost my children, I don’t know how I would continue with life. I tried to ground Riggs in a real place. As an audience, we want things more grounded today.”
As for how the hour-long action drama series will compare to the fan-favorite films, executive producer/writer Matt Miller revealed that FOX’s show will be more like the first movie, only darker and more emotional.
“The first one is the one that resonated the most for me. It was darker,” Miller said. “By the fourth one it was more of a comedy than anything else. When we were launching the show, in order to do something that had legs, you had to have some depth that the characters were drawing. We rebooted the stories slightly and the show does play emotionally which is surprising to some people. It’s really about two guys that are broken for different reasons and they need each other to become whole again.”
Executive producer/director McG was surprised with how much emotion they were able to inject into the action-packed series. “It’s actually an emotional viewing experience, which I didn’t expect,” he said. “It all came together. We honor the original and do our own thing that works.”
And executive producer Dan Lin revealed that while “there may be a Lethal Weapon 5 [movie] in the future,” right now they are just focusing on the TV show. “This is a chance to revive the Lethal Weapon franchise in a fresh, new way,” he said.
When it came to finding new actors to reboot the series and stand out from the iconic performances that Gibson and Danny Glover delivered in the original films, the producers went right for Damon Wayans to play family man Murtaugh. But for Riggs, they actually found Clayne Crawford in an independent movie and had to take him away from his “happiness” on a farm in Alabama with his family because they were confident that he was the only one for the role.
“I didn’t want to read the script and I certainly didn’t want to leave Alabama,” Crawford said. “But I read the material and as an actor, I couldn’t say no to a man that was so broken but yet was like a hero and trying to do the right thing. It kind of grabbed me immediately. Terrifying. I don’t know how we’re going to maintain this but I have confidence that we’re going to give it our best effort and leave it all on the field.”
As for the structure of the reboot, Miller explained that while there will be cases of the week and it will act as a procedural with “crimes we’ll solve on a weekly basis,” there is also a season-long story that they’ll be telling to keep viewers coming back every week.
And of course the panel wouldn’t be complete with Wayans uttering Murtaugh’s infamous line: “I’m too old for that shit.” But this time, he was simply answering a journalist’s question of whether or not he’ll have any more kids in the future.
Lethal Weapon premieres Sept. 21 on FOX.