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Fox premiered one of the most ambitious new series in the fall of 2016 with Lethal Weapon, and it would deliver a brand new take on legendary characters from one of the greatest action movie franchises of all time. We're well into the first season at this point, and we've seen that Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford have made the roles of Murtaugh and Riggs their own. Thomas Lennon is set to make his Lethal Weapon debut as none other than Leo Getz in tonight's episode, and he spoke with CinemaBlend about how his version of the character is different from Joe Pesci's in the movies, saying this:
Matt [Miller] the showrunner called me. Before I said I would do it, we talked on the phone for a little while, and I said, 'You know, I can't do a Joe Pesci impersonation. I don't even seem in any way like a Joe Pesci type of person in my mind. Other than that I'm kind of little and bizarre.' And he said, 'That's not a problem. No one on the show is trying to be the people from the movies. It's all completely reimagined.' And I was like, 'If you're open to the idea of a bizarre weirdo that's just not at all like the one from the movies, I will totally try to be as bizarre for you as I can.' That's always a trick, because Joe Pesci's performance is insane and so amazing and highly quotable.
Joe Pesci played Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon 2, 3, and 4, and he's undoubtedly the most iconic actor of the film franchise after Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, so it would have been easy for any actor who tackled Leo on TV to just try and copy Pesci's work. Given that Thomas Lennon wasn't looking to recreate Pesci for the new version of the character, any fans expecting a Joe Pesci 2.0 performance may be in for a surprise when Lennon makes his Lethal Weapon debut. Instead of copying Pesci, he'll bring his own version of Leo to TV to interact with Damon Wayans' version of Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford's version of Riggs.
That said, Thomas Lennon was under a great deal of pressure to do justice to the character of Leo. Lethal Weapon movie fans have been hoping for and/or dreading the introduction of a new Leo, and Lennon was already making headlines for Lethal Weapon before he even began filming. He went on in his interview with CinemaBlend to explain that he did his best to make the TV Leo as funny and interesting as possible without stepping on Joe Pesci's work. All things considered, we should be in for a fun new take on an existing character.
While we haven't seen the episode yet, Thomas Lennon did give an idea of the sort of character his version of Leo will be. While filming a key scene with Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford on set, Lennon dropped a cheeky joke, and it's not one that we can imagine coming from Joe Pesci:
My favorite line that I said to [Clayne] in the show was the first time they meet me and they try to shake me down, I looked straight at him - it was like the ninth take of the scene - and I said, 'Nice mustache.' Which I thought was great but did not make the final cut of the show. But it did crack him up pretty hard.
I can't speak for Clayne Crawford, but I know I cracked up at the joke. Crawford is distinctly disheveled as Riggs, and the only things that are consistent about his look are the messy hair and mustache. Thomas Lennon is well-known on the TV circuit for rocking a mustache as Jim Dangle on Reno 911, and it's only fitting that facial hair banter went down on the set of Lethal Weapon while Lennon was around.
Although it's unfortunate that the line didn't make it to the final cut of the film, at least Reno 911! fans can get a kick out of seeing Thomas Lennon back in the epic mustache on the small screen. He did tease the possibility of another Reno 911 movie during our Lethal Weapon chat, so we may see him back in the 'stache and shorts as Dangle. In the meantime, however, we can only hope that he makes his way back to Lethal Weapon and give us more Leo in the future of the series. One episode almost certainly won't be enough.