Crawford, who played Officer Martin Riggs in the first two seasons of the action series, was dismissed from the show over anger management issues that made other members of the cast and crew feel unsafe. On Sunday, Fox announced that he will be replaced by American Pie's Seann William Scott, who will play Det. Murtaugh's (Damon Wayans) new partner, a recasting that irked many Riggs fans. Riggs, after all, is the character played by Mel Gibson in the film series, and is the franchise's most iconic character. Plus, fans really love Clayne Crawford's performance and hair.
During a conference call with reporters Monday morning, Fox execs explained a bit of the process behind Crawford's dismissal, saying that it was Warner Bros. decision to let the actor go. "This was not our choice," Fox Television Group CEO and co-chair Dana Walden said. "Ultimately, our partners at Warner Brothers came to us about three weeks ago to tell us that they could not deliver Lethal Weapon as we've known it before [because] there were some real challenges in the cast."
Walden said that Fox does think Warner Bros. made the right decision, and that the show has Fox's full marketing support.
Fox TV co-chair Gary Newman cited other TV shows that recast a lead, like NYPD Blue, which "did that sort of beautifully" and continued to be successful when Jimmy Smits took over for David Caruso in Season 2. He anticipates that Lethal Weapon showrunner Matt Miller will be able to do something similar with Seann William Scott.
Lethal Weapon Season 3 will air Tuesdays at 9/8c this fall on Fox.