Richard Donner has an impressive resume as a director but he seems forever linked to two franchises: Superman and Lethal Weapon. While chatting with Geoff Boucher at the Los Angeles Times about the former, he let slip the news that Mel Gibson has refused to be in the fifth installment of the latter.
We recently reported that the project may be fast tracked but with Shane Black working on another film, people were concerned that Lethal Weapon 5 may be stalled. Then we heard it was happening. Now, Donner said, "Mel turned it down," Donner said. "I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn’t involved. Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be." Gibson’s representatives refused to confirm this for the Times.
"Joel Silver tried to ace me out of it,” Donner explained. “He tried to put it together but made sure he didn’t do it until my contract was up. You know, it’s typical of the man. A guy who wasn’t even around at the beginning when we started on the first one. He came in late.
"Yes, the project is pretty much dead in the water unless someone had the sense to come to me."
Boucher got Donner to comment on Warner Bros.’ recent announcement that they envision the next Superman feature film to be a darker look at the Man of Steel. "I do think you could probably take Superman into some other areas today,” he commented. “I think maybe it’s ready to break the mold slightly and bring a little greater sense of reality into it. Not contemporizing it to like today. Just making the heavies — and the situation that is the tension piece — a little more broken away from the comic-book character. It would take some tricky writing, some good acting and some good directing."
As for who should be involved, he has one name. "I’d like to see Geoff Johns take a crack at the Superman…I think he would be startling. Did you read his comics? There it is. It’s there on paper." Johns began his career as Donner’s assistant on Conspiracy Theory and the two have collaborated on a run of Action Comics, which Johns now writes on his own.
"The studio hasn’t gone to him and said, ‘Give us a screenplay.’ That would be the smart thing to do, but that’s show biz. Right? Show biz, that’s our life."
The prolific director is more immediately looking forward to this week.” This Thursday my favorite producer in the world, Lauren Shuler Donner, and I are getting stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame."