The 1987 movie Lethal Weapon wasn’t the first buddy cop movie, but Roger Murtaugh and Martin Riggs (Danny Glover and Mel Gibson) elevated the concept to blockbuster status. Three sequels and 31 years later, it’s been adapted as a TV show. So its time to look back and learn a little of what went into the creation of Lethal Weapon.
5. THE MOVIE WORKED BECAUSE OF “REAL CHARACTERS.”
In a 2012 reunion interview with Empire Magazine, Mel Gibson said buddy-cop movies prior to Lethal Weapon “were all a little two-dimensional. The heroes would grunt; they wouldn’t express themselves much. But Riggs and Murtaugh were real characters.”
“It’s the humor, mixed with the action and the special effects,” Danny Glover added. “All that came together at that particular time. And the chemistry between the two of us was undeniable.” Donner agreed: “You don’t find [chemistry] in real life very often, much less on the screen," said the director. "But it works. People care about them.” Gibson described filming Lethal Weapon as “pure fun,” and Donner said “there was uncontrollable laughter at times.”
“And it’s been emulated so much and referred to so often,” Gibson said. The 1993 film Loaded Weapon 1 (a sequel, thankfully, wasn’t made), starring Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson, parodied Lethal Weapon 1 through 3. “If something works and people are sending it up and knocking it off, you’ve got to be flattered,” Gibson told Empire.
6. THE ORIGINAL FILM HAD A DIFFERENT OPENING AND ENDING.
The first time we see Riggs in Lethal Weapon is at his beachfront trailer, with his dog, smoking and drinking while walking around naked. In an earlier draft of the script, Riggs drinks with dock workers who torment a dog, and Riggs makes “mincemeat” out of the guys. The original ending (above) featured Riggs and Murtaugh saying goodbye to each other, and Riggs telling Murtaugh not to quit the force, because he’s too old. But in the theatrical ending, Riggs shows up at Murtaugh’s house on Christmas. “If you think I’m going to eat the world’s lousiest Christmas turkey by myself, you’re crazy,” Murtaugh tells him. “I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m not crazy,” Riggs responds. Riggs and his dog agree to stay for dinner.
Read the rest of the 25 facts about Lethal Weapon at mental_floss.