Audio from Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford’s spats on the set of Fox’s Lethal Weapon reveal just how chaotic and toxic the show’s working environment was.
In the audio, posted by Variety, Wayans and Crawford are heard trading insults and curses. One of the exchanges, which occurred in March, actually happened moments before shooting a scene on season 2’s 20th episode, which Crawford himself directed.
Variety spoke to 31 people (with the promise of anonymity) about the dynamics on set, with some saying how Crawford could become combative and difficult. Two crew members recalled a moment during a meeting when Crawford went on a profanity-laced rant for an extended length of time. Other instances of Crawford’s temper include scenes in which background noise from kids in a nearby pool kept the scene going for longer than it should. In another video acquired by Variety, Crawford is heard yelling (with expletives) for the crew to get the set quiet within earshot of the children. Further on-set tensions made the director, Eric Laneuville, leave.
Wayans, who declined to comment in the interview, certainly has a list of grievances with Crawford, including that Season 2 shoot which led to the exchange captured on video. During the shoot, a piece of shrapnel hit Wayans on the head, something he later asserted via a deleted Twitter post wasn’t an accident.
Wayans posted a behind-the-scenes video from his scene on Twitter, followed by an image of his head injury from the shrapnel. He also claimed Crawford “[r]elished in making female[s] cry” and struck “fear in cast and crew.” He also tweeted a picture of a sticker reading “Clayne Crawford is an emotional terrorist” and alleged that he hit actor Lance Henriksen in the mouth with a bottle of green tea. This claim was rejected by several crew members who spoke to Variety on anonymity, who said that in this particular scene, Crawford was supposed to toss Henriksen the bottle, and one of the tosses missed, accidentally hitting Henriksen.
On-set tensions between Crawford, Wayans and crew members became so bad that Pinkerton security guards were hired to prevent physical fights. Even though Crawford had been reprimanded twice for his on-set behavior, which Crawford admits to in an Instagram post, Warner Bros. Television went ahead with the decision to fire Crawford and others on set who aligned themselves with him so that Fox would greenlight the show for a third season. Seann William Scott has been hired to play a new character who becomes Murtaugh’s (Wayans) new partner.
To be fair, Wayans doesn’t come out of this story unscathed either. Some crew members take Crawford’s side, saying that despite his questionable temperament, he was a dedicated, passionate, warm and prepared actor. Wayans, on the other hand, has been accused of poor on-set demeanor. One crewmember said, “I would rather work every day with an actor who comes in prepared and knows their lines and is passionate about their role and cares about the show [and] gives 150% of his heart and soul into it than someone who comes in every day and says ‘I wish this show was canceled, I hate this show, it feels like I’m in jail, even if he ultimately gives a great performance.” Information obtained by Variety also reveals possible diva behavior from Wayans, who demanded food every 2.5 hours, naps after lunch and his own set of “sides”–the daily scripts–that included just his lines, as well as a rigorous process for script approval.
Part of Wayans’ behavior could be due to health. As Variety reports, Wayans, who has diabetes, told reporters in 2016 he’d had brain surgery to remove a tumor that was on his pituitary gland. According to the Mayo Clinic, pituitary tumors can cause a range of symptoms, the least of which including irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, weakness or tiredness, joint pain, and heart problems. One crew member dismissed notions of Wayans being more challenging to work with than Crawford, saying Wayans is merely “passive-aggressive.”
In any event, Wayans has since leaned into the accusations in an attempt to make light of them; his Twitter bio now reads “Comedian. Diva. whiner. And still an employed actor.”