‘Lethal Weapon’ EP Matt Miller Talks Clayne Crawford’s Exit & Seann William Scott’s Dynamic With Damon Wayans

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Brian Bowen Smith/FOX; Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Season 3 of Fox crime drama Lethal Weapon is coming — even after original lead Clayne Crawford was fired from the show in May for inappropriate behavior on the set. Still, the series was officially renewed and the show will go on.

Exactly how the show will go on was in the mix of questions for creator/executive producer Matt Miller in the first interview he has done since the Crawford news broke earlier this year. It didn’t take long for actor Seann William Scott (best known for the American Pie film franchise) to be announced as a replacement for Crawford — though we now know Scott will be playing an entirely different character named Wesley Cole who, Miller tells TV Insider, may or may not have a connection to a character from the iconic Lethal Weapon films.

In the same announcement, it was revealed that actress Maggie Lawson (Psych) will play Cole’s ex and mother of his child, Natalie Flynn.

Also during our exclusive interview, Miller talked about how he planned his Season 2 finale knowing that Crawford may not return for a third season and more about the character Scott will be playing on the show. Read on for the scoop.

How big of a blow was Clayne’s firing to your Season 3 plans? Did you see it coming or was it all a surprise?

Matt Miller: What I would say is obviously I, as executive producer of the show, knew that things had been a little bit difficult and that [production company] Warner Brothers was uncomfortable with the current situation. I obviously had been brought up to speed along the way and was very aware of the challenges that the show was facing. So when [Clayne’s dismissal] eventually did happen, we were prepared for it. Season 2 did end with Riggs being shot and we weren’t sure exactly how that was all going to play out, but creatively, we were prepared for every possible contingency plan. So we set ourselves up in a position where we could go with whatever direction the forces that be decided to go.

Executive producer and series creator Matt Miller. (Photo: Fox)

Did you have to scrap a lot of your Season 3 plans when everything happened?

We had a variety of different plans going into Season 3 — we had almost like a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” We had a couple of different scenarios of which way things could have gone. But I will say that once we got started and Seann was cast in the show, it wasn’t as if we had a version that was OK and then this was the Seann William Scott version that we have. Once he was actually cast, we picked a lane and we started to come up with a creative version that would accommodate that character, who we wanted to draw for that character — something that would play to Seann’s strengths. It’s been a total pleasure working with him on the show.

How does the start of Season 3 deal with Riggs while also introducing Seann’s character?

Again, Riggs was shot at the end of Season 2 so we’re going to play that as the direction at the top of Season 3. It’s a delicate balancing act because we’re looking to launch a new character in the premiere and, at the same time, pay proper respect to the Riggs character. It’s about finding that balance between paying proper respect to the first two seasons of the show and also, at the same time, launching a new show that feels equally exciting and interesting and dramatic and funny and romantic and all the other things that we sort of had in that stew of Season 1 and 2. We’re going to close the Riggs chapter and start a new one in a way that feels properly respectful of Riggs and at the same time, exciting and an enthusiastic way to launch our new season.

Seann’s character is Wesley Cole. Is there any relation to Riggs or something along those lines?

There is no relation to Riggs. They don’t know each other and they’re totally different. The idea is that, in regards to the last name of Cole, there is a character brought into the third Lethal Weapon movie that they did named Lorna Cole, played by Rene Russo. We wanted to name this character Cole to stay within the canon of the Lethal universe but Lorna would’ve been an odd name for a guy. [Laughs] So his name is Wesley Cole and he did a lot of time overseas in a more covert CIA capacity. Circumstances happen abroad that are very tragic for him and end up sending him back to Los Angeles for reasons that we’ll come to learn in that first episode. He does have an estranged family that lives in L.A. and he gets a job working for the LAPD. In the first episode, we see Cole and Murtaugh intersect first as adversaries, working the same kind of case, and ultimately they end up teaming up throughout the course of that episode.

See Lorna Cole in the original Lethal Weapon 3 movie below:

Does the name Lorna Cole come up at all? Maybe she’s Wesley’s mother?

Maybe. We don’t have any plans yet for Cole’s mother but, sure, maybe. The idea of the last name is something that we’re hoping to give a little bit for the fans.

Is it safe to assume that Seann’s character is still the wild card element that Riggs was in the show?

It is. He’s definitely very much a wild card. He’s very physical, he’s obviously the ‘lethal weapon’ in the dynamic. The difference is that Riggs had a lot of pain as it related to the death of his wife. He was suicidal and he was always looking for a way to possibly die, whereas the Cole character has such an optimism to him. He has tragedy as well in his backstory, but as opposed to approaching it from the point of view of he wants to die, he feels like he has a lot to make up for in this world. He feels like he has to attack every situation, which puts him and Murtaugh in a similar dynamic. But at the same time, he’s trying to make up for some of the harm that he’s caused and done to people in his past.

When I first heard the name Seann William Scott, the first thing I thought is he typically plays a happy-go-lucky guy.

Yeah, and he does that so well but we don’t want to make him someone that doesn’t have depth or pain because that’s a part of the show, it’s a staple of the show. But it just presents in a slightly different way than Riggs did. Riggs was extremely violent and would go into situations and shoot a lot of bad guys in the head. Cole is someone that can do that because of his past, but because of some of the things that he’s done and that have happened, he’s looking to not use his gun. He’s looking to avoid confrontation. Now, no matter where he goes, the deal with his character is chaos follows and that’s something that’s pointed out to him by his ex [Maggie Lawson’s character]. She doesn’t want him back in town, she doesn’t want him part of her life or their child’s life.

Is this relationship with his ex something he wants to get back to?

It’s something that he realizes. He’s taken stock of his life and he’s realized he’s made a couple of really bad decisions, one of which is the destruction of this relationship. And so he’s back in town and trying to kind of bring things together, but it’s not as easy for him as he’d hoped.

Actress Maggie Lawson (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

The first time you saw Seann and Damon shoot a scene together, what were the feelings in seeing them interact?

They came into my office and they met a couple weeks before we even started shooting. Then, later that night, Seann was texting me and he started asking me some questions about the character that sounded a little weird to him. I was like, ‘I don’t even know where you would get that from’ and he was like ‘Oh, Damon told me that.’ [Laughs]

From the first time they met, Damon has just been messing with Seann and has been telling him all these crazy things about his character, and Seann, this sweet, incredibly gullible guy that he is, believed everything. I was like ‘Dude, he’s messing with you.’ So I think it’s been a lot of fun for both guys, because Damon loves to play jokes and practical jokes and Seann is the perfect recipient for that.

Lethal Weapon, Season 3 Premiere, Tuesday, September 25, 9/8c, Fox