Surprising Facts Most People Don't Know About 'Lethal Weapon'

There’s no arguing that Lethal Weapon is one of the best action movies of all time, let alone one of the best '80s cop movies ever released. By pairing Murtaugh and Riggs together, writer Shane Black and director Richard Donner created one of the most legendary duos of all time. Even if you're a super-fan of one of the greatest action franchises to date, there are probably still a few things you don't know about the Lethal Weapon series. Since everyone working on the films loved the narrative, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes stories from Lethal Weapon to entertain movie buffs who can't get enough.

Whether you're interested in learning that Mel Gibson did his own stunts or what Shane Black used to type the script that sold for $400,000, this strange Lethal Weapon trivia has more surprising facts than you could imagine. 

  • Shane Black Wrote The First Draft Of 'Lethal Weapon' At 24

    Before Shane Black was the hot-shot screenwriter behind pretty much every action movie you've ever loved, he was living in Los Angeles working on a zombie movie at 22 years old. In what would prove to be a wise decision, Black took a break from the zombie film to write Lethal Weapon (LW). The initial script took about six weeks, but he ended up throwing it away. 

    Though he referred to it as "dreadful," Shane Black actually ended up submitting the script and Warner Bros. bought it three days later for $400,000

  • Murtaugh Wasn't Written With Race In Mind

    Shane Black didn't write a descriptor for what Murtaugh (Danny Glover) was supposed to look like. During casting for the first film, Richard Donner, the director of all four LW films, was surprised when Danny Glover was brought up for the character. In recent years, Donner has admitted to feeling ignorant for thinking the character had to be played by a white guy. Donner told Empire: 

    As for Danny, he made me realize how intolerant I was. Because the script didn’t say Murtaugh was Black. It just said, 'Roger Murtaugh - going on 50.' Marion said to me, 'Did you see Color Purple? What about Danny Glover?' And my first reaction was, 'But he’s Black!' And then I thought, 'Whoa, f*ck, here’s Mr. Liberal. What a brilliant idea...' I felt stupid. It changed my way of thinking.

  • Ramses Condoms Paid $10,000 To Be Featured In The Film

    At the height of media campaigning for the AIDS epidemic, when people began to realize that the disease was not exclusive to the gay community, Hollywood started including messages about safety in films. Since Hollywood also likes to make money, they worked with condom companies to sell ad placements; as a result, the second LW film made $10,000 from Ramses condoms.

  • Riggs Was Supposed To Perish Within The First Two Films

    An idea that kept coming around for the first two LW films was whether or not Riggs (Mel Gibson) should perish. In the original draft of the first film, Riggs was meant to eat it in the third act, but Richard Donner, "slowly realized that maybe there was a series in this."

    Gibson agrees, saying they "were always teetering on the brink of bumping Riggs off. We came very close to doing it in the second one." In Shane Black's initial draft of LW 2, he took out the character, but that didn't stick. 

  • Carrie Fisher Was A Script Doctor On 'LW 3'

    After putting her Princess Leia days behind her (at least for a little while), the late, great Carrie Fisher worked as a script doctor on a bunch of movies, including LW 3. A script doctor is someone who does an uncredited pass at a script and essentially reworks it, either by adding jokes, exposition, or even retooling the entire thing. 

    While talking about her life as a script doctor, Fisher explained why she was hired: "I write good love scenes and I write good women." As for, LW 3, Fisher likely had a hand in the character development of Rene Russo's Sgt. Lorna Cole. 

  • The Scene Where Riggs Attempts To Take His Life Took Four Weeks To Film

    One of the hardest scenes to watch in the entire franchise is when Riggs attempts to take his own life while watching the Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas TalesRiggs loads his piece and holds it to his head before finally putting it down. Richard Donner told Empire that this was the most difficult moment to shoot. 

    Donner said they filmed the scene twice but "Mel wasn’t happy with it." Instead of making Gibson work it until they got what they wanted, the crew waited around the set "for weeks" until the actor finally said, "Hey, can we do that scene?" 

    Donner told Empire:

    The camera operator was sitting on the dolly, crying his eyes out. The camera’s shaking and I’m crying too. And then Mel started hitting himself on the head with the gun. I was worried about him, but I let him go.