Tonight Warner Bros held a screening and reception for The Nice Guys, the latest Shane Black movie. In attendance was producer Joel Silver, who helped kickstart Black's career when he took a shine to the partial screenplay the then 21 year old writer was shopping around in 1985. I had a chance to chat with Silver a little bit - I drilled him for info on The Warriors, of course - and he dropped some information on me that was so mind blowing I thought everyone knew it. A quick Google search indicates that this tidbit - a piece of trivia, to be fair - hasn't been widely reported, if at all.
Silver explained that the atmosphere in Hollywood was very different in the mid-80s. At the same time that he was bringing Black's script to studios To Live and Die In LA had been released in theaters and had whiffed, and the general consensus in Hollywood was simple: "People don't want to see action movies," Silver reminisced. Studio after studio turned down the buddy cop movie until he finally got to Warner Bros, where exec Mark Canton saw something in the script. When Warner Bros came on board, Silver tried to sell them on his preferred director: Ridley Scott.
No, not Tony. At first I thought Silver was misspeaking when he said Ridley, but then he said, "They didn't like him because of Blade Runner," which had been a failure. The movie eventually went to Richard Donner (Leonard Nimoy briefly considered it, believe it or not).
What would Ridley Scott's Lethal Weapon have been like? It's hard to imagine it being as light as Donner's take; in a few years Scott would make Thelma & Louise, but at this period he was doing Legend and Someone to Watch Over Me and Black Rain. Humor didn't seem to be on his mind in this period. You would kind of think Silver would have approached Tony Scott - who would go on to direct a Shane Black script with The Last Boy Scout, but for whatever reason Silver thought Ridley was the man for the job.
And now you know a little piece of trivia.