The Pinnacle of Buddy Action Movies: Lethal Weapon

Entertainment | December 1, 2021

Perhaps the best onscreen chemistry of any cop movie.

When it comes to buddy cop movies Starsky and Hutch may have laid the foundation but the gold standard remains Mel Gibson’s and Danny Glover’s “Lethal Weapon.” However, Gibson and Glover weren’t the only incredibly talented duo working on the film that grossed over $120 million worldwide. Genius screenwriter Shane Black and director Richard Donner also helped create a series that eventually grossed nearly a billion dollars. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about “Lethal Weapon”.

Black's dialogue between Roger Murtaugh or Martin Riggs enraptured audiences. (geeksgamers)

An Early Mess

Shane Black was just 23 years old when he wrote the first “Lethal Weapon” and he only had six weeks to do it. To make his deadline he drew inspiration from one of his favorite films, “Dirty Harry.”

“What I was looking to do at that time was write an urban western. I was thinking about for that character, sort of the Frankenstein who everybody reviles. And then they have to knock on Frankenstein’s cage and say, 'Well we kind of need what you do even though we hate and revile you. Please come out and kill these people for us,' and it’s the old gunslinger."

Despite a clear vision and such a short timeline, Black ended up throwing his first script in the trash. "I thought it was dreadful.”

The script never mentioned the race of either character but their differences helped make the movie. (itregal)

Dream Casting

While Black and Donner made their presence felt in many ways, the true magic lay between Gibson and Glover. As Donner said, “You don’t find [chemistry] in real life very often, much less on the screen. But it works. People care about them.”

The stars could feel something special from day one. “It’s the humor, mixed with the action and the special effects,” affirmed Glover. “All that came together at that particular time. And the chemistry between the two of us was undeniable.”

Gibson felt the depth of their relationship mirrored that of actual police partners. “A lot of those guys become friends or become dependent on each other. They get a bond through desperation. Because we used to go out on night patrols, you get this feeling of vulnerability. It’s the same with the film. It’s kind of a feeling of desperation in a way. It’s scary when you embark on something like that because you’re exposing yourself in a way, so a bond forms. And he’s a good actor and a nice guy. So it normally happened; it was easy.”

Hard to imagine Bruce Willis as Martin Riggs after Gibson's performance. (screen rant)

Crazy What Ifs

Today it’s impossible to think of Roger Murtaugh or Martin Riggs and not think about Glover and Gibson. However, in ‘87 another action hero was Hollywood’s first choice: Bruce Willis. That’s right, John McClane of "yippee ki-yay Motherf$#ker" fame turned down the role before Gibson and Glover’s idyllic chemistry took over.

And if that didn’t blow your mind, Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek turned down the opportunity to direct. Nimoy had just come off captaining “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984), “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), and “3 Men and a Baby” (1987). He turned down ”Lethal Weapon” to do “The Good Mother.”

Gibson said filming was “pure fun,” and Donner recalled "uncontrollable laughter at times.” joblo

Great Chemistry Inspires Safe Sex

Perhaps no story better exemplifies the incredible chemistry between Gibson and Glover than a tidbit from the making of “Lethal Weapon 2”. It revolved around the memorable condom scene where Murtagh’s daughter stars in commercials for rubbers. While chatting during rehearsals Gibson said, “I thought she was great. She made me wanna go out and buy rubbers right now. Danny Glover, in the rehearsal, spit his f*cking sandwich across the room, and it wound up staying in the movie."

After each “Lethal Weapon” broke the box office, everyone tried to do their version of the buddy cop classic. Despite most attempts failing miserably, Gibson always took it as a compliment. “If something works and people are sending it up and knocking it off, you’ve got to be flattered.”

Tags: Danny Glover | Lethal Weapon | Richard Gere

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!