It looks like FOX’s Lethal Weapon might be one of those rarities: a successful movie franchise that makes a successful transition to the small screen.
The series stars Damon Wayans as Roger Murtaugh and Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs. The two do a great job of capturing the essence of what fans fell in love with in the four LW films released from 1987 – 1998.
Detectives Riggs and Murtaugh make an odd couple.
Martin is currently dealing with tragedy after losing his wife and unborn baby. He’s seemingly uncaring about what happens to himself, which makes him a danger to everyone.
Roger’s a family man who’s back on the job after a recent heart attack. He has a fierce wife and two amazing kids so he has a lot to lose. Keeping company with someone who has a death wish mentality may not be smart or healthy. But the two are slowly becoming a winning — yet destructive — combination.
One of the storylines in tonight’s all-new episode focuses on Roger’s son, Roger Jr., played by Dante Brown. Fun Fact: When he was five, he made an appearance on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show where he learned the tricks of the comedic trade from the then-Tonight Show host, Jay Leno. And while he did tell a joke or two, he really impressed everyone with his dancing.
Well, he’s 17 years old now (his birthday was last week!). And he has a lot going on. Along with school, he stars on Lethal Weapon, he can be seen in a couple of national commercials (Subaru and State Farm), and he has his music (he says he’s headlining his own birthday concert on Oct. 29). He’s inÂ an independent film with his little brother, Dusan. And he works on film and TV projects that he writes himself.
An exhausting schedule, for sure. SoÂ we’re thankful he was able to take some time to talk to us about Lethal Weapon and his big episode.
TV Goodness: People seem to be responding well to Lethal Weapon. Why do you think that is?
Dante Brown: I think it’s because the characters go so deep. It’s just something that you can really connect with. Each person has a trait, no one seems out of the ordinary. It seems like it can happen in real life. And, of course, the chemistry of Damon and Clayne, Oh my god. It’s just the characters are so developed and the writers — they kill every episode. It’s amazing. It’s a tearjerker and such an energetic show.
TV Goodness: So you watch every single episode?
Dante: I watch everything that I’m in and everything that I’m a part of soâ€¦and we do TV night so when something really big pops up me and my friends get together and my family and we all watch the episode that I’m in or that I’m a part of together.
TV Goodness: How are your friends reacting so far?
Dante: They love the show. Some of them were crying — the girls that were around — they were crying. The guys were trying to act non-emotional, but we could see them getting emotional. The show is such a tearjerker, and it has so much action. I think it seems so cool because it appeals to the younger kids who like action and emotion and stuff like that. I think it’s dope.
TV Goodness: Talk about Roger Jr. What kind of character is he?
Dante: He’s very intelligent. He’s smart enough to get into Princeton, which is crazy. He’s a straight-laced kid, he’s been like that all of his life. This is something new to me. I don’t get to play this type of role often, I’m usually playing the kid that’s getting into some mischief and always doing something bad or in the streets or edgy. This is the first time I get to play a clean-cut role where I’m the smart kid. And I get to act all sophisticated. I’m going to Princeton so this is something fun to me. It’s new to me but it’s really fun to do. Because I get to show my acting range.
TV Goodness: What can you tease about tonight’s episode?
Dante: Roger Jr. goes through a slight transformation and experiences…increased self-awareness. After hanging in the old hood, RJ crosses paths with a childhood friend, that may or may not be the best influence. But as would be expected, RJ gets excited about rekindling this friendship with Marcus, who’s a bit older… a street-wise, cool dude that introduces straight-laced RJ to the day-to-day life joys of a typical teen boy… girls, fancy cars and tons of fun.
On Twitter our writers tweeted, ‘Episode 4 is splashy, you’ll see what we mean.” I’ll add it [was] splashy, flashy, it was so fun to shoot! I got to drive my first luxury car and whew… what a thrill! I think it’ll be even more fun to watch how it all came together and this episode is very endearing, too. Of course I’m probably biased, but what I really enjoyed about shooting episode 4 is that it touches on things that are happening in places like my hometown (Chicago, and many urban cities), right now – it’s very current and relatable, not just as a black boy, but as a young adult being faced with having to make decisions and realize that there’s always consequences to follow, so choose wisely.
I’m thankful that our awesome writer/producer Ms. Adele Lim and her Lethal Weapon writers team chose such a relevant subject in which to incorporate and expand on my character. Episode 4 brought deeper scenes with my TV parents…you’ll see my parents’ love stretch and deepen with the thought of how I (RJ) could’ve been a product of my environment, had I not had in my life, strong, positive, influences.
You’ll see all of our relationships grow, a deeper trust being established. I think fans are gonna enjoy seeing the dynamics of “There Goes The Neighborhood” play out… lots of fun, humor and heart, this episode and myself and the entire cast look forward to reading their reactions on social media and live tweeting with them during the episode, east coast time.
TV Goodness: Do you get to take part in the action side of things or is it more character-driven stuff that you get to do?
Dante: It’s more character-driven. I don’t really get to get into the actionâ€¦.yet. Right now it’s just character.
TV Goodness: What’s it like working with Damon Wayans?
Dante: It’s a blast. We really have a father and son bond. It’s really cool. I’m always coming in telling jokes. He’s always coming at me telling jokes. It’s always hard to keep a straight face when we’re doing scenes, but great actors manage and that’s something I’ve learned to do is when you’re in a scene with someone as funny as Damon or who is as great as Damon how to keep your composure and really give the scene your all. That’s what I’ve learned. And I’ve learned many things business-wise, tricks, and just learning how to work the room and be around him and be around people and still give light to any situation so I’ve learned a lot from him.
TV Goodness: Have you spent any quality time with Clayne Crawford (Riggs) yet?
Dante: Actually, this episode you’re going to see a little bonding time. I do get to bond with him off screen but on screen this is going to be the first time you’ll actually see us bond.
TV Goodness: And how was that to play out?
Dante: He’s such a cool guy. Down to earth. I don’t know if you know this, but he did challenge me to this 22 [Pushup challenge]…
TV Goodness: I saw thatâ€¦
Dante: It’s crazy. I’m trying to really show support for our military vets who are going down to self-harm. So it’s fun to show that support and be there for those people. And I really appreciate him for challenging me because I get to show young kids that they can stand up to something like this too.
TV Goodness: What’s it like being part of the Murtaugh family? Does it feel like you have all bonded as a family?
Dante: We’re always bonding off camera. The Twitter sessions, when we do table reads, and when we tweet to the east coast that’s really when we all get to bond. When you see us on camera, that’s really us having fun. That’s really us playing with each other, playing around in the scene, actually feeling like a family. That’s amazing to bond with all of those people, it’s a lot of fun.
TV Goodness: What can you tease about any future Lethal Weapon episodes featuring your character?
Dante: There’s going to be a lot more funny, witty things coming out of me and my TV’ dad, Damon. And you’re going to see me transition into getting older and exploring life and really trying to get out.
TV Goodness: Can we talk about that Subaru commercial you’re in? It’s on all the time. How much recognition are you getting from that commercial?
Dante: I think it comes on every time Lethal Weapon is about to come on. So you see me and then you see me again and they’re always playing it during football. They’re playing that Subaru commercial like clockwork. It’s crazy. I get text messages, emails, social media, at school, people are telling me, hey I saw you in that Subaru commercial. Teachers are coming up to me, are you in a Subaru commercial? I didn’t even know you act. It’s crazy. A lot of recognition. A lot of people are seeing my face when it comes to that commercial.
TV Goodness: What else do you have going on?
Dante: The concert, my cartoon series that I’m writing. Well, I’m done writing, I just need to pitch now. Working on the characters, figuring out what I need to do this with copyrighting, there’s a lot going into this. I’m only 17 years old, by the way, doing this. It’s pretty exciting for me to try to pitch this show, a show that IÂ made that I’ve been dreaming about it since I was little because I’ve always wanted to make my cartoon show. So just trying to get it out there and getting finalized.
I’m also in an independent movie called Black Doves, which we’re about to start crowdfunding for. That’ll be on my Instagram and my social media so you guys can go to it and show it some love. My little brother (Dusan) is in the movie with me, so it’s really cool. Both of us are starring in the movie together, it’s about both of our characters.
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