WHILE there are TV shows born from the sheer ingenuity of Hollywood’s writers, others are inspired by best-selling novels, real-life stories and, of course, movies.
Mel Gibson (Martin Riggs) and Danny Glover (Roger Murtaugh) helmed the hit buddy cop franchise, Lethal Weapon, which ran from the late ‘80s to the ‘90s. Although there was talk of a fifth instalment, it never materialised. Eighteen years later, it has become the perfect blueprint for a TV series for Fox. And it has respected actors, Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans, in Gibson and Glover’s legendary roles.
Matthew Miller, who is known for his work on Las Vegas, Hitched, Human Target, Chuck, 666 Park Avenue, The 100 and Forever, is the mastermind behind the TV series. At a press conference, he shed light on his vision for Lethal Weapon.
“When we started working on this project (I’m a fan of all four of the films), the first one is the one that resonated the most for me. It is a pretty dark character piece and, as they go through the films, they get a little bit further away from Riggs and his suicidal past and he’s able to evolve, and they bring in new characters, and it becomes more comedic so, by the fourth one, it’s more of a comedy than anything else.”
Miller continued: “For me, in order to do something that had legs, that you felt like you wanted to visit this world and these characters week after week, you had to have some depth that the characters were drawing on. So we rebooted the series with Riggs as well as Murtaugh’s backstory to give us some place to go in the series.
“The idea of it being this grounded comedy/action/drama family show is really about two guys who are broken for different reasons. And they need each other to become whole again.”
Now Wayans needs no introduction. He has profound footprints in film and TV. His more notable work being My Wife and Kids, which is still shown on our screens, and, going way back, In Living Colour. On slipping into the role of Murtaugh, who, in the series, has just become a father, he noted: “I have seven beautiful grandchildren. I don’t touch any of them (laughs)… because they want money. I love kids. I feel a different side of me come alive when I’m with kids.”
Said Crawford: “I thought everyone involved with the Lethal Weapon franchise had done such a wonderful job, including, obviously, Mel Gibson, who really kind of dominated this role and didn’t leave a lot of meat on the bone. But I read the material and I couldn’t say ‘no’. It grabbed me immediately.”
Jordana Brewster (Fast and the Furious franchise and Dallas remake) is cast as DrMaureen Cahill. She offered: I worked with Matt on Chuck, which was one of the greatest experiences for me on TV. I was really excited to work with him. I loved the script.”
Director and executive producer, McG, added: “You have one guy, Murtaugh, who decidedly wants to live. He cheated death. He had this bypass and he’s got a newborn and beautiful family. And then you have a guy, Riggs, who is so broken that he’s quite comfortable dying. I think our two actors did a good job of making that credible.”
Of course, as much as our two leads are dealing with their personal demons, there are cases to be solved and they do it in true Lethal Weapon style, amid plenty of action, drama and comedy.
Lethal Weapon airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) tonight at 7.30pm.