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.
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.
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.
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.
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.