STORY UPDATE 8th May:
There is no official word coming from any of the parties – though Clayne Crawford has been quite active retweeting supportive comments – but multiple sources are now claiming that Crawford has all been but let go from the series and that the Lethal Weapon production is looking into options to recast the role. The show’s renewal, once considered likely, is now on much less firm ground. IF the show goes to another season, and it’s now a BIG if, it seems the role WILL be offered to another actor in the next few days.
Other existing contracts run out at the end of June, but with the networks all gearing up to make their presentations as early as next week, the production is assessing its options with all due haste. By this time next week, a decision one way or another will most likely have been announced.
With a degree of somewhat unfortunate irony and misplaced maxims, it seems the only thing that can stop a series with a big gun is a ‘good’ guy with a tendency to go off half-cocked. That may be the message behind news that the Lethal Weapon series, the FOX spin-off from the highly-profitable big screen franchise, could be in real trouble because of the alleged conduct of one of its main stars. The series, detailing the misadventures of two detectives (by-the-book veteran Roger Murtaugh and the almost suicidal/reckless Martin Riggs), hit screens in late 2016.
Industry-website Deadline broke the story that there have been an escalating number of serious complaints from the set about Clayne Crawford who plays the tv version of wildcard cop Martin Riggs (originally Mel Gibson in the films) and his interaction with others on the show. The allegation that he has caused a growing ‘hostile work environment’ could seriously impact a production, currently in its second season. It has solid ratings (it is FOX‘s second most-watched returning show after Empire – though its viewership numbers are down on last year’s debut) but had previously been seen as a sure-thing for renewal. That now would appear to be slightly less certain and Deadline initially suggested that the situation is so serious that there are possibly considerations being given to recasting should it continue. Deadline‘s sister-site TVLine went on to indicate that any such replacement might actually be a female co-lead rather than just getting another actor for the Riggs role, though that would surely mean a massive retooling of the whole set-up (after all, this isn’t Doctor Who!)
Co-lead Damon Wayans essays the Roger Murtaugh role originally played in the films by by Danny Glover and was a major force behind bringing the series to television – Crawford came to the show much later after an exhaustive casting process.
However there are two sides to every story and on Tuesday, Crawford made the following statement, putting his version of recent events:
It is true that I have been reprimanded twice during the past two seasons of ‘Lethal Weapon.’ The first reprimand was because I reacted with anger over working conditions that did not feel safe or conducive to good work under the leadership of a guest director and assistant director, who, in turn, were angry at my response. I met with human resources, I apologized for my part of the conflict, and I completed studio appointed therapy in October. I even shared a sizeable portion of my paycheck with one of the parties involved, per the instruction of the studio.
The second reprimand happened just a few weeks ago during the episode I was directing. An actor on set felt unsafe because a piece of shrapnel from an effect hit him. It was an unfortunate event that happened in spite of all precautions and procedures being followed. I take responsibility for the incident, because I was in charge of the set. I absolutely love, respect, and care for my crew and cast and would never intentionally jeopardize so many jobs. Moreover, I love the process of filmmaking and television. I appreciate and respect the work of everyone involved. It takes a village, and I am incredibly sorry if my passion for doing good work has ever made anyone feel less than comfortable on set or feel less than celebrated for their efforts. Furthermore, I apologize to all the crew and cast for any negative attention ‘Lethal Weapon’ is receiving because of these incidents.
I take great pride in treating everyone in life with dignity and kindness. I am very grateful for my job, and I work extremely hard at it. I have a responsibility to do good work for my coworkers, my family, and my home state, and most especially for the fans. I hope they will stick with me and stick with the show.
FOX and others associated with the show have made no other official comment on the situation so far, though Deadline has gone on to fill in some apparent details, with the claim that Crawford and Wayans had a major falling out over limitations Wayans subsequently demanded on his work routine after being injured on an episode that Crawford directed (partly alluded to in Crawford’s statement). Other ways the production is run (no table-reads etc) may not help.
If there is tension between the two leads, whatever the origins or faults of that, it will likely impact the renewal process in some way – with a decision needing to be made in the next few weeks.