Leo Getz is coming to Lethal Weapon! It was only a matter of time before the quirky lawyer would make the jump from the movies to the television series. Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) has taken on the role that was originally played by Joe Pesci in tonight’s “As Good As It Getz.”
BuddyTV spoke to Lennon on the phone to discuss taking on this memorable role, Leo’s quirkiness, coming up with ad libs, and the experience of filming Lethal Weapon. Read on for excerpts from our conversation with him.
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On taking over the iconic role of Leo Getz
Lennon: Honestly, the biggest thing I thought was, “That sounds really hard.” It was right before Christmas that [I] talked [with Executive Producer Matt Miller] and I knew that I was going to be sitting around at home with my family for several weeks, and I was like, “You know what? I really want to come into January knowing something very, very hard is looming on the horizon. It will just wake me up and make me get more engaged.”
It seemed like it would be very difficult and I wanted to try it. I was very lucky because I was trying this thing out, which was a major task around really funny supportive people. Damon [Wayons], Clayne [Crawford] and Keesha [Sharp] and everybody where just like– it’s a genuinely delightful set to be on.
Did you go back to watch movie clips?
Oh, my God, no, I never did. First of all, they are all firmly planted in my mind. The one thing I did, I thought maybe– I never did a Joe Pesci impression in the whole show except at one point, there’s a scene where I’m buying a coffee from a coffee machine. It didn’t make it into the final cut, but I explained how the coffee machine– Say F*ck you at the coffee machine.
I did a riff that was sort of inspired by Joe Pesci’s “They f*ck you at the drive thru.” monologue, but it’s actually not in final cut. Although, tons of my own weird stuff is in the final cut. I didn’t watch it, because once you watch something– I’m the kind of person who’s a character actor. If we stay on this phone call, by the end of these 15 minutes, I will start talking like you. I didn’t watch them for sure…
I think you’ll see that this version is very “me” in all the weirdness. It’s my mustache, my mustache comb, I didn’t really how weird combing my mustache was until Damon Wayons like freaked out about it in a scene. Apparently, he thought that was a real strange thing to do.
Was that the funniest quirk about Leo?
Oh, no, no. This Leo– I think the best quirk I found about this Leo– he’s got some bus ads and bench ads. My favorite thing I’ve found about Leo is– there’s a scene where Trish Murtaugh says to him, “Oh, wait, you’re the guy from the bus lawyer ads besides the buses.” And, I improvised, I said, “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. Yes, that’s me.” As if she was complimenting him on being famous. I think that’s the thing I found about this version of Leo is that– this version of Leo, in his head, thinks he’s Johnnie Cochran, basically.
And, he knows TMZ well.
It was so funny. My favorite thing about that line is that I improvised it. It was something I improvised. I do– I know Harvey and and I like Harvey Levin from TMZ. It was so funny. I improvised that and I thought at the time, I was like, “This is the funniest thing I’ve ever said.” And, then Nick, the director, came over right after I did the take and said, “Tom, Tom, mate, I love it. I love everything. Let’s do one– let’s for sure do one without the Harvey Levin ad lib, okay. Okay, let’s make sure we get one that doesn’t have that in it.” And, I was like, “God damn it! That sounds so funny. And, so I see it did make the show.
Did you do a lot of ad libs?
I did a fair amount, yeah. The script was really amazing, but then they gave me a little wiggle room. You’ll probably be able to tell. If it feels like a very weird thing that feels very true to me, you’ll probably know that it’s true. On the first day of filming, it was very nice because Damon Wayons told me that he owns the complete Reno 911 box set, so he told that to me that first day we were rehearsing. And obviously, I’ve been a big fan of him since I was a teenager, so when he told me that, I think it maybe gave me a lot of confidence that like, “Hey, like, don’t let down one of your heroes.” So, I tried to crack them up at every time I could.
In the movie, there are a lot of memorable lines. In the TV show, you can’t use the language the same way, but is there a memorable line or scene that people will be talking about the next day?
I hope so. I almost don’t want to spoil them in this article. … I will say that Leo’s coffee order. The thing that I order at the coffee machine was deliberately, only designed by me to make Damon Wayans laugh and it made it into the show, so I’m really proud of it. … At the end of that scene as I was walking away, I looked right at Clayne really angrily and said, “Nice mustache.” That I’m afraid did not make it.
Does Leo get along better with Riggs or Murtaugh? Or does he have a good, quirky relationship with both of them?
I think there’s a pretty good chemistry between the three of us. I’m trying to think of which one of them has more disdain for me, but the answer is probably both. It’s hard to say. It was fun to play those scenes because I’m genuinely a big fan of both of them and I feel like they seemed to like me. We laughed a tremendous amount filming those scenes. And, in the first scene when Clayne throws a water bottle at me. He was throwing that like a– literally like fastball at like 80-some miles an hour at my face.
Did you catch it?
I did! I did. I caught it almost every single time out of the 8 times. And, he kept throwing it faster, faster.
On the experience of playing Leo Getz
You never know how things are gonna turn out and before I started promoting the show, I asked to see the cut of the show. And, I legitimately loved it. I thought it was really funny and I’m a pretty cynical person, so I was just pleased to do something– It’s not like it was fun along the way– sometimes you do things that feel fun along the way and they turn out terrible. I loved how it turned out.
Lethal Weapon airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX. Want more news? Like BuddyTV’s Lethal Weapon Facebook Page.
(Image courtesy of FOX.)