8 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Lethal Weapon’

Entertainment
A screenshot from "Lethal Weapon" shows Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

A dark and edgy buddy cop movie, “Lethal Weapon” hit theatres on March 6, 1987, becoming an an instant classic, and has withstood the test of time pretty well. Not Mel Gibson’s mullet though, thankfully it begins to shrink before finally vanishing in the later movies. More an action-thriller with some laughs than a slapstick cop movie, “Lethal Weapon” centers around aging detective, Roger Murtaugh, played by Danny Glover, who is paired up with Martin Riggs, an unstable and self-destructive detective grieving over the death of his wife, played by Gibson.


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Set in Los Angeles, California, during Christmas, the two characters, who are both Vietnam veterans as are all the villains, become embroiled in a nefarious plot. Explosions ensue, there’s at least one kidnapping, and some bonding — you know, a lot of the stuff you expect from an action movie. From quips about the size of Murtaugh’s gun, to Riggs’ crazy eyes, the humor carries the movie through the violence, and helps soften the brooding tension underneath Gibson’s character, who is spiraling downward from unstable to utterly psychotic, before finally being saved by friendship and the acceptance of Murtaugh’s family — in true Christmas fashion.

In light of the holiday season, here are eight things you probably never knew about “Lethal Weapon.”

Murtaugh never says his signature line: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Contrary to popular belief, Roger Murtaugh never says his signature line in the first movie, he says “I’m too old for this shit.” In the later films he does say “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

The first “Lethal Weapon” is the only one that takes place during Christmas.

Widely regarded as a holiday staple, the first “Lethal Weapon” is actually the only one set during the holiday season, but it was released in March.

Martin Riggs struggles with survivor's guilt, and that’s why Mel Gibson wanted to play him.

Gibson accepted the role of Martin Riggs because he wasn’t another two-dimensional action hero. The character is largely defined by his struggle to reconcile his wartime experiences, and the loss of his wife, with the fact that he’s still alive.

“I found that the guy in the Lethal script was not two-dimensional, he had something else going on, in fact he was on the verge of having a mental breakdown,” Gibson said in an interview for a short featurette on the making of “Lethal Weapon”

The actors were trained in three different forms of martial arts.

To prepare for their roles, the actors learned Capoeira, Jailhouse Rock (a fight style that originated in United States prisons) and Jiu-Jitsu. Gary Busey — who played Mr. Joshua,  the movie’s principal villain — learned Taekwondo as well, because he’s a badass and a little crazy. His interest in martial arts began when he was working on “Lethal Weapon,” Busey told Vice.

There’s a crossover between “Lethal Weapon” and “We Were Soldiers.”

Danny Glover’s crotchety detective, Roger Murtaugh tells Martin Riggs, that one of his buddies saved his life at the Ia Drang Valley in 1965. Ia Drang was the first major engagement between U.S. forces and the North Vietnamese Army. Gibson would later play Col. Hal Moore in “We Were Soldiers” which is a film adaptation of that battle.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover worked out daily while preparing for the film.

Their intense pre-production training involved physical conditioning, weight workouts, and weapons handling and safety.

Nerd goggles mean you’re a villain.

Each film in the franchise features a bad guy with glasses. In the first it’s the balding goon, Gustav, who is later shot by Riggs in the club scene. In the second it’s the hitman who appears in the scenes when Riggs shoots the fish tank and when the hit squad attacks Riggs' trailer. In the third it’s a  bearded henchman and the fourth has a member of the triad, again with glasses.

“Lethal Weapon” and “Die Hard” almost swapped lead actors.

Bruce Willis was originally considered for the role of Riggs in “Lethal Weapon,” but Willis turned it down and got the lead role of John McClane in “Die Hard,” after Gibson turned it down, according to a June 2007 article in Vanity Fair.

My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario's seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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An Army staff sergeant who "represents the very best of the 101st Airborne Division" has finally received a Silver Star for his heroic actions during the Battle of the Bulge after a 75-year delay.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Edmund "Eddie" Sternot was posthumously awarded with a Silver Star for his heroics while leading a machine gun team in the Ardennes Forest. The award, along with Sternot's Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was presented to his only living relative, Sternot's first cousin, 80-year-old Delores Sternot.

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U.S. special operations forces are currently field testing a lightweight combat armor designed to cover more of an operator's body than previous protective gear, an official told Task & Purpose.

The armor, called the Lightweight Polyethylene (PE) Armor for Extremity Protection, is one of a handful of subsystems to come out of U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) effort that media outlets dubbed the "Iron Man suit," Navy Lieutenant Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman, told Task & Purpose on Wednesday.

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