8:15am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Damon Wayans Opens Up About 'Lethal Weapon' Without Clayne Crawford
Damon Wayans is one episode in to the newly rebooted third season of Lethal Weapon and, according to the actor, the set of the embattled Fox reboot is considerably different without former star Clayne Crawford.
"We're only the first [episode] in but it's definitely a lot lighter in tone and we're having fun — on and off set," the actor told reporters Thursday night at Fox's TCA party.
Wayans spent a considerable amount of time catching up with Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden at the Soho House bash toasting the network's new and returning series. The actor is returning to the procedural for a third season and its first without Crawford, who was fired from the Warner Bros. TV-produced reboot in May following multiple incidents of bad behavior on set. (Wayans — after the series was officially renewed with a new actor, Seann William Scott, joining the cast as the new co-lead — went so far as to share graphic video of his issues with Crawford.)
With the tension between the two stars now in the rearview mirror — "I wish him the best. Onward and upward for everybody," he says of Crawford — Wayans said the set is considerably different in season three.
"It's a lot looser. Nobody is overthinking; we're just doing and we're having fun trying to get home," he said.
Season three will pick up with Murtaugh in a different space after his friend and partner, Riggs (Crawford) was killed. "Right now, Murtaugh is mourning the death of his friend, so he's not that happy, silly Murtaugh," he said, noting that Scott's new character, Wesley Cole, will help change that. "He's the light that Murtaugh needs to be pulled back out of that dark place."
Cole arrives as an ex-CIA agent who is assigned to a case with Murtaugh as the duo team up to solve a crime together. And, to hear Wayans tell it, it's "love at first crime" between Murtaugh and Cole.
Crawford apologized for two incidents for which he was reprimanded during the sophomore season of the Fox drama. Still, Warner Bros. TV decided against renewing his contract for a third season and refused to deliver the show to Fox with Crawford attached. In his apology, Crawford offered his version of two incidents that ultimately led to his firing. He said the first incident happened when he became angry with what he deemed unsafe working conditions on the set. After the outburst, the actor said he met with human resources, apologized for his role in the conflict and completed studio-appointed therapy, while also sharing a "sizable portion" of his paycheck with one of the parties involved — at Warners' request. The second incident occurred during an episode Crawford was directing when another actor — later revealed to be Wayans — felt unsafe on set after being hit by a piece of shrapnel from an effect.
Wayans noted that Crawford was involved in all the writing for Riggs last season and his death in the season two finale wasn't a surprise.
"He knew and he was very happy with where the show was going. I don't know how he feels about where it ended up but I know he was very much involved in the writing process and the arc of his character," Wayans said.
With the new season returning Sept. 25, Wayans would rather look forward than rehash the past. "I'm not going to speak on it because it's all hearsay and I don't want to throw fuel on the fire. Just let it burn out. I wish him love. It's a hard business and I wish him the best," he said.