“So far it’s been an absolutely charmed first two weeks,'” Lethal Weapon developer/executive producer/showrunner Matt Miller told Deadline Thursday night about shooting the upcoming third season of Fox’s Lethal Weapon. In an interview with Deadline during the Fox TCA party, he gave more details about new co-star Seann William Scott’s character, talked about how the character will be introduced in the Season 3 premiere and shared the wild story of how Scott was cast.
Season 3 features a revamped leading duo of returning star Damon Wayans as Roger Murtaugh, joined by a new character played by Seann William Scott. The American Pie alum replaced original co-lead Clayne Crawford (Martin Riggs) who was let go over on-set behavior issues.
As Deadline revealed last week, Scott’s character’s name will be Wesley Cole. His last name is an homage to a memorable character in the movie franchise, Lorna Cole, played by Rene Russo in the third and fourth film. But that’s as far as any parallels go, Miller said.
The impetus for the Wesley Cole character came from an article in the New Yorker Miller had read around the time the turmoil on Lethal Weapon was happening this past spring. “It was about a CIA agent who had served overseas in Iraq and had became very disillusioned,” Miller said. “He came back and became a cop but his philosophy as a cop was not to run in and shoot people, take down bad guys. What he was looking to do is always defuse the situations as opposed to escalate them.”
Wesley Cole was created with two goals, to be different from Riggs but still serve as the show’s “lethal weapon.”
“He is the opposite to Riggs who had a lot of anger and a lot of angst, who is looking to go in and maybe shoot all the bad guys,” Miller said. “This is a guy who is looking to go into a situation with the bad guys and say, ‘ok, guys we can talk about this’. Of course the situations evolve always, chaos follows him wherever he goes; we still want the action comedy, all the explosions, all the drama all the set pieces.”
“At the same time, because of the fact that Riggs was the lethal weapon in the show, when he’s gone you need a new catalyst for the show, new energy and someone who by definition could qualify as the lethal weapon.” Miller added.
The Season 3 opener of Lethal Weapon will feel like a series premiere, with Cole introduced in a way similar to Riggs’ debut in the pilot.
“We open the season the same way we did in the pilot where we met Riggs and heard about his backstory. The same thing happens with this character Cole,” Miller said. “We are going to meet him abroad, see the circumstances, the tragedy that sends him back to LA. At the same time, we are going to wrap up Riggs’ demise.”
After that opening, the Season 3 premiere episode will then pick up six months later.
“Murtaugh could not move in because of Riggs,” Miller said. “He wears the same sweats for weeks, people think he is homeless, walks around the house in an old bathrobe; he can’t move past Riggs. At the same time we will meet Cole who has now moved to LA to try and reconnect with his family, and he’s got a job as an uniformed police officer. He’s working as an uniform cop at the same time as Murtaugh is pursuing Riggs’ demise and has been chasing these bad guys. That’s how they both meet and realize that they have to work together.”
As Wayans put it in an interview at the same Fox TCA party, “It is love at first crime.”
Speaking with Deadline, Miller also shared the wild story of how Scott was cast in the series almost by chance.
After Lethal Weapon had wrapped production on its second season, Miller had taken his family to Paris where they rented an apartment. They had been there for awhile when the situation on the Warner Bros. TV-produced show came to a head in May.
“I was talking to Fox and Warner Bros., and it was a bit of a moving target,” Miller said. He dismissed reports that there were a lot of offers to other actors before Scott was cast.
“There really were not, it was almost none,” he said. “it was a conversation we all had, myself, Warner Bros. TV and Fox.
Seann had gone in and had pitched a show that day. They were like, ‘he looks really good, what about Seann?’ I said, ‘That’s a really interesting idea’. Because I knew that he had such a different energy from Clayne, there would be no way they would occupy the same space.”
There was more serendipity involved. “Apparently at the same time, Seann had read in Deadline about all the problems on Lethal Weapon and thought that would be interesting for me, he told me.” Miller said.
Still in Paris with his family, Miller got on the phone with Scott and pitched him the idea for the new character which had not been fleshed out yet.
“He liked the idea. A bit later I was on a plane from Paris to LA. Landed in LA, and six hours later I got on a plane for New York to meet Seann for the upfronts,” Miller said. That’s how it went down, it was extraordinarily fast.”
Despite the hastiness of the process to have Scott in place in time for Fox’s upfront presentation, Miller said that his first meeting with the actor “could not have gone any better” and that things are going well on the once-troubled set.
“We’re only the first (episode) in but it is definitely a lot lighter in tone, and we are having fun, on and off set,” Wayans said Thursday night.
Said Miller, “I hope the audience likes the new version. So far it’s been charmed and I hope that people respond to it.”