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Lethal Weapon (1987) Poster

(1987)

Trivia

Jump to: Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (6)
Jackie Swanson did perform the high fall on her own. Trained by legendary stuntman Dar Robinson. Also, the stunt was done using an airbag covered with a life-size painting of the driveway and cars, which, like a foreground miniature, visually blends into the real scene. Thus, the editor is able to hold the shot until just as she makes contact with the airbag, for greater realism.
The first movie to feature a cellphone. It can be seen when Murtaugh calls his wife to tell Amanda Hunsaker's death, and when later Murtaugh calls Dr. Stephanie Woods to talk about Riggs' insanity. After Michael Hunsaker is killed, The General can be seen using a cellphone to communicate with Mr. Joshua.
Franco Zeffirelli reportedly decided to offer Mel Gibson the role of Hamlet (1990) after seeing his suicide contemplation scene in this film.
Mel Gibson was only 30 when the movie was filmed, although his character Riggs was supposed to be 38.
On E! True Hollywood Story (1996), Gary Busey says he was hired to play Joshua because they were looking for someone big and menacing enough to be a believable foe for Mel Gibson. Busey also credits the film for reviving his failing movie career.
Murtaugh tells Riggs that Huntsaker saved his life in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965. Mel Gibson would later play Col. Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers (2002) which is a movie adaptation of that battle.
Legendary stuntman Dar Robinson was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after principal photography was finished. Director Richard Donner dedicated the film to him.
Danny Glover's character (Sergeant Roger Murtaugh) is 50 years old in the movie, but Glover was only 40 years old in 1986.
An alternate opening and ending were both filmed (and are available on the Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) DVD). The alternate opening featured Martin Riggs drinking alone in a bar where he is accosted by a couple of thugs who want his money. Riggs claims all of his is in the bank and tells the thugs "not to fuck with him." The thugs attack him, but Riggs easily subdues them. He is then allowed to take a free bottle of booze from the bar in exchange for never returning. Director Richard Donner felt the movie should open with a brighter look at Riggs and filmed the scene with Riggs awakening in his trailer to replace it. The alternate ending featured Riggs and Murtaugh saying good-bye to one another. Murtaugh tells Riggs he's thinking of retiring, but Riggs tells him not to.
Shane Black's first draft of Lethal Weapon which he wrote sometime in 1985 was very different, not just from his later drafts but also from the final movie. This first draft was 141 pages long and it had alternate plot parts, character scenes, action sequences and many other differences, like entire ending which had big chase scene including helicopters and a trailer truck full of cocaine which explodes over Hollywood Hills causing for cocaine to start snowing over Hollywood sign. Reportedly, Riggs was also much different character in this first draft than he is in the movie and he actually died in the ending. Black at first thought that this draft (which was one of his first scripts) sucks so he threw it in the garbage but later changed his mind and re-worked it into the new drafts. For the longest time, Black was the only one who had copy of his first draft until he sold it on auction. This draft still remains some of his most wanted work amongst fans.
Leonard Nimoy was one of the choices considered for directing, but he didn't feel comfortable doing action movies, and he was working on 3 Men and a Baby (1987) at the time.
A running gag in the Lethal Weapon film series is the "One, Two, Three" false starts where Riggs and Murtaugh can't decide whether to go "One, Two, Three... then go!" or "One, Two, THREE!" (go ON "Three") While the gag does not exist in this film, there is a "One, Two, Three" false start in this movie. It happens when the uniformed cops are trying to prepare to sing "Silent Night" in a chorus and one of the cops keeps starting too soon.
The only film in the Lethal Weapon series (as of 5/2013) where Riggs' shoulder is not dislocated.
From the early pre-production stages, Richard Donner wanted the final fight sequence to be unique, yet also to make a strong statement about the characters involved. Coincidentally, assistant director Willie Simmons had an avid interest in unusual forms of martial arts, and he invited several practitioners to the set to demonstrate for Donner. The result was the hiring of three technical advisors, each a master of a particular martial arts style. Cedric Adams was the first expert brought in. "Adams thought the best possible way to show just how lethal Riggs really is - is to show his mastery of a form of martial arts never before seen onscreen," said Donner. Adams taught the actors the movements of Capoeira. A second technical advisor, Dennis Newsome, brought jailhouse rock to the fight sequence. The third technical advisor was Rorion Gracie, who specialized in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The filming was spread over four complete nights, shooting from dusk to dawn, resulting in an edited sequence that would last minutes on screen.
According to a June 2007 Vanity Fair article, Bruce Willis was considered for the Riggs role but turned it down. He got the lead role of John McClane in Die Hard after Mel Gibson turned it down.
In one scene, Riggs asks Murtaugh, "Did the stock market crash?". The infamous Black Monday of October 19, 1987 occurred 7 months after this film's release.
Casting director Marion Dougherty first suggested teaming Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. She arranged for Gibson to fly in from his home in Sydney while Glover was flown in from Chicago, where he was appearing in a play, to read through the script.
Blackie Dammett (real name John Kiedis), who portrays one of the drug dealers at the Christmas tree stand, is the father of Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Riggs's firearm is a Beretta 92F, meanwhile Murtaugh's gun is a classic Smith & Wesson model 19.
Hunsaker tells Murtaugh about Air America. Mel Gibson would later star in a movie about the subject, Air America (1990).
Recent UCLA graduate Shane Black wrote the screenplay in mid-1985. His agent sent it to producer Joel Silver, who loved the story and worked with Black to further develop the script.
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Despite popular misconceptions, Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) never actually says, "I'm getting too old for this shit" in this movie. He simply says, "I'm too old for this shit." He does however say he's "getting too old for this shit" in the sequels. But in later versions it is dubbed over with him saying shit at the end of the sentence.
Film's soundtrack includes Elvis Presley song I'll Be Home for Christmas. Darlene Love, who plays Murtaugh's wife, was background dancer in Elvis' production Elvis (1968).
In the scene where Riggs is contemplating suicide, there is an actual bullet in the chamber which Mel Gibson was pointing at his head, thinking that it would allow for a greater sense of portraying the scene realistically and dramatically--and foolishly.
This is the second film in which Mel Gibson plays a mentally unstable policeman whom loses his family. The other film was Mad Max (1979), which he plays a vengeful policeman whose wife and son are murdered by a motorcycle gang. In this film, Gibson's character Martin Riggs, a suicidal policeman, lost his wife in a car accident.
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This is the first collaboration of Richard Donner and Mel Gibson.
Danny Glover played against Gary Busey again in Predator 2 (1990), where Glover played a cop again.
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To familiarize the actors with the specialized skills and sensibilities acquired by undercover cops, arrangements were made for Mel Gibson and Danny Glover to spend time in the field accompanying working L.A.P.D. officers.
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Features the film debut of Joan Severance.
The two leads were signed by early spring 1986. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover then flew home to pack, and, returning to Los Angeles, began an intensive two months of physical training and preparation.
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Stunt coordinator Bobby Bass planned and supervised all phases of Mel Gibson's and Danny Glover's intense pre-production training; physical conditioning, weight workouts, and weapons handling and safety. Bass also used his own military experiences to bring a greater depth of understanding to the Riggs character.
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Throughout filming, technical advisers from the L.A.P.D. as well as the L.A. County Sheriff's Department worked closely with Richard Donner and the actors to ensure authenticity.
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Shadow Company, the name of ex-special forces team in the film is taken from the title of first script that writer Shane Black wrote. The script was about group of dead special forces US soldiers who died during Vietnam war and years later after their bodies are brought back the soldiers, who were members of some secret army experiments return to life as rotting, unstoppable zombies who raid the armory from the army base near the town where they were buried and then proceed on attacking the town during Christmas night, killing everybody in it and wiping it off the ground. Around 1988 or 1989 after the final draft of the Shadow Company script was finished by Black and Fred Dekker (both of them also wrote 1987 cult horror film The Monster Squad), it was gonna be turned into action horror film directed by John Carpenter, with Kurt Russell in main role and with Black and Walter Hill as producers (Hill also did some uncredited co-writing on the script). However, due to some problems, the movie was never made. Original script by Black and Dekker did however gained cult following from theirs and Carpenter's fans.
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Each movie of the 'Lethal Weapon' series features a goon with glasses. Here, in the first one, it is the balding goon, Gustaf (Gustav Vintas), who delivers the line "He has a grenade!" during the desert scene and is later shot in the club by Riggs.
When Murtaugh and Riggs are walking down the street discussing how Mertaugh owes Hunsacker, a movie theater's marquee displays "Lost Boys: This Year's Hit". Richard Donner also produced The Lost Boys (1987).
TITLE DROP: Murtaugh speaks the title of the film when he says to Riggs, "I suppose we better register you as a Lethal Weapon."
On Roger's refrigerator at his home is a bumper sticker about South Africa. In Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), the villains are South African.
After the Explosion at Dixie's house, Sgt. Murtaugh calls out on the police radio that there is a "fire and explosion at 111th and Larch". This is one-half block west, the nearest intersection of the actual house used during filming in Lennox, CA (4521 111th St).
Out of the whole Lethal Weapon series, this is the only one, which wasn't shot in CinemaScope.
After shooting Riggs, Joshua calls the police pretending to be a journalist from a radio station called "KCOP" to confirm Riggs' death. "KCOP" is an abbreviation of "killer cop", referring accurately to the attempt of Riggs' assassination. *KCOP is the call letters for an actual local channel in Los Angeles (Ch. 13 KCOP) They changed the name to the UPN after this film was made, but the actual station is still KCOP-13, just like KTTV-11, KTLA-5. There is no factual basis from any proven source that this trivia is what the film makers intended.
There is a scene early in the movie that takes place in Riggs' trailer. In that scene Riggs puts his gun in his mouth for another suicide attempt. Right after he does so the camera cuts to the television. The program shown on the television is the Christmas special Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales (1979).
The only film in the series in which Riggs drives a GMC crew cab pickup truck. In the sequels, Riggs drives GMC extended cab pickup trucks. The extended cab was not introduced for Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks until the 1988 model year. GM pickup trucks were only available in regular and crew cab styles before 1988.
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Harrison Ford was considered to play Martin Riggs.
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John Candy was considered for the role of Martin Riggs.
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The girl in black playsuite (uncredited but played by actress #Joan Severence') that Riggs arrests at the house in the hills, also played a small role in Bird on a Wire (1990), which also starred Mel Gibson.
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Mary Ellen Trainor (the woman police psychologist) and Grand L. Bush both later had parts in Die Hard...
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Hollywood city officials hung Christmas decorations on Hollywood Blvd. a few months early so that the scenes shot for this film, particularly the action scenes near the film's end, looked like they happened at the end of the year.
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The famous line, "I'm too old for this shit" had already been said in To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and also by a cop (Michael Green)
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Call sign used by Riggs and Murtaugh: 3W56 (3-William-56)
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Murtaugh's license plate of his car is E641985.
Hollywood city officials hung Christmas decorations on Hollywood Blvd. a few months early so that the scenes shot for this film, particularly the action scenes near the end of the picture, looked like they happened at the end of the year.
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Director Trademark 

Richard Donner: [Three Stooges] there are several references to The Three Stooges in the film.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Body count: 26
Both Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis were considered for each other's roles in Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988) and both movies were produced by Joel Silver with music by Michael Kamen. Willis was offered the role of Martin Riggs but turned it down and a year later he did Die Hard (1988). Gibson was considered to play John McClane along with his costars from The Expendables 3 (2014), Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger but they all turned it down. Coincidently, the script for Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) was written as a Lethal Weapon sequel.
Tom Atkins (Michael Hunsaker) reveals that he worked for an operation called Air America which involved the CIA and dealt with shipping heroin out of Laos. Mel Gibson starred in a movie titled Air America (1990) that may have been based on this conversation. However, it is equally possible that Hunsacker (as well as Air America (1990)) was referring to the historically factual Air America, an American passenger and cargo airline covertly owned and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency from 1950 to 1976. It supplied and supported covert operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.
The Styles of Martial Arts displayed in the film include Shotokan Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Boxing, Capoeira, Judo, & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Mel Gibson references his famous scene from Lethal Weapon in The Expendables 3 (2014) as he tells the people he's fighting with to kill him. Expendables 3 also had Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas who worked with Richard Donner and Joel Silver for Assassins (1995) 8 years later. Gibson also suggested and joked that both his characters Martin Riggs and Jerry Fletcher from Conspiracy Theory (1997) also directed by Donner would be good as Expendables.
The assassination of Michael Hunsaker, featuring a bullet-hit through a carton of eggnog, is most likely inspired by the assassination of Senator Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate (1962): bullet-hit through a carton of milk.

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