LETHAL WEAPON, now in its second season Tuesday night on Fox Networks, is based on the popular buddy cop film franchise. In the movies, Danny Glover played uptight police detective and family man Roger Murtaugh, who winds up paired with unstable widower Martin Riggs, portrayed by Mel Gibson.
In the LETHAL WEAPON TV series, Damon Wayans is now Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford is Riggs. Crawford joined LETHAL WEAPON while still playing the polar opposite role of confused, status-conscious Teddy Talbot in the fourth and final season of the acclaimed series RECTIFY. Last year, the actor from Alabama appeared in the feature films WARRIOR ROAD, THE WEIGHT, and TINKER. Crawford made his TV directing debut with LETHAL WEAPON’s “Jesse’s Girl” episode this season.
In Season 2, Riggs has found and brought to justice the murderer of his wife Miranda, but Crawford says the character still has a troubled soul.
ASSIGNMENT X: Do you feel that doing LETHAL WEAPON as a TV series rather than as a feature film reboot gives you the ability to find more depth in the characters?
CLAYNE CRAWFORD: That’s the joy of doing a show like this, is that you get to explore – those guys had eight hours throughout the four films, and we exceeded that in the first season. So for us, it’s the opportunity to explore Riggs, and you peel back the layers and find out what really makes him tick, and why he put so much value in someone like Miranda and that relationship.
AX: Were you concerned that when Riggs found the killer, that he might have to lighten up, or did you know where he’d be going from there?
CRAWFORD: That was my first question. I said, “We can’t play on this” – when I first met [LETHAL WEAPON TV series creator/executive producer] Matt [Miller], I said, “We can’t play on the death for four seasons. And I would imagine you’ve got a big picture here in play, so what …?” And he said, “No, no, look. We’re going to find Riggs at Christmas before he met Miranda, and he’s going to be at a bar by himself. That should let us know what kind of family life he comes from, and that he’s not right, and he’s not happy.” So I knew Riggs is a mess, and that Miranda is just one of the layers.
AX: So what’s his state of mind now?
CRAWFORD: I think a weight has been lifted. I think him going down there [to Mexico] and just being able to track down Tito and see that through, I think it’s very rewarding for Riggs, and I know that’s what he’s riding on. And I think that he doesn’t know what the future holds, and that’s why I think we’re going to start planting little seeds, and we’re going to start delving into his past, and certain things are going to come up, and again, we’re going to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together to realize what really makes Riggs tick and why is he so complicated and broken.
AX: Where did you shoot that doubled for Mexico?
CRAWFORD: We shot Mexico in Long Beach, we shot in San Pedro. You don’t have to go far – L.A. is a lot like Mexico.
AX: Is the comedy element of LETHAL WEAPON all in the writing, or is some of that in the chemistry between you and Damon Wayans?
CRAWFORD: Look, I got by by making my family laugh, you know what I mean? I never saw myself as an entertainer in the comedy sense, simply because I just enjoy heavy drama, and I enjoy sad things. I think I’ve been drawn to that as an actor. So yes, it comes very naturally. And working with a guy like this [indicates Wayans], he’s just such a good dude, and he’s sweet, so it just makes it really easy.
AX: On a visual note, it seems like Riggs has a lot of hair changes …
CRAWFORD: [laughs] I felt that I can make myself go from being very disheveled to very together when I have hair, and facial hair. It allows me to transition back and forth, and Riggs transitions quite often, whether it’s a façade that he’s trying to put up, and the hair, when it goes crazy, it just makes it a nice visual tool for me to draw on.
AX: How arced versus how standalone are the episodes in Season 2?
CRAWFORD: Similar to what it was last season, where you’ve got a main focal point that we follow throughout, a main arc that we’re going to follow from beginning to end, and then of course you’re going to solve our little crimes throughout, and then we’re going to have little mini-arcs throughout the season, that are like five episodes, which are always really nice.
AX: Have you had any communication with RECTIFY creator Ray McKinnon about working with him again?
CRAWFORD: Yeah, Ray and I had dinner. Miss Abigail Spencer [Crawford’s RECTIFY costar, now starring on TIMELESS] had her birthday and a couple of us all went and had dinner. I think we [Crawford and McKinnon] want to do a comedy together, but we’re thinking more in the vein of an HBO half-hour-type deal. Because I felt RECTIFY was quite funny at times. We as humans are so absurd, and we react the way that we do in life, not the way that we do perceived reactions in theatrical worlds or fairytales, when the way we react to things is quite comical at times, and even with the sadness and the darkness that comes in moments, Ray and I want to explore that. So he’s not ready to write yet, he’s still just living his life, and enjoying being free, but soon.
AX: What did you do on your hiatus between seasons of LETHAL WEAPON?
CRAWFORD: I went to my farm for a few days, I went to Hawaii for a few weeks, and then I was in London and Paris doing press for this in May. So it was pretty quick.
AX: How is LETHAL WEAPON doing internationally?
CRAWFORD: I think we’re Number One in twenty-one countries. We were averaging around sixteen million viewers in South Africa. I think when you go overseas, the quality of television they receive is obviously either dated or not to the scale that we kind of present things here in the U.S., so they watch this thing, and it’s like watching a fricking movie every week. And it’s something to watch with their kids. And I think that is why the show is doing so well, is that Mom and Dad can sit down with the babies, and that’s the joy of the show.
This interview was conducted during Fox Networks’ portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour.
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Article: Interview with LETHAL WEAPON Clayne Crawford on Season 2