How Fox's The Gifted 'moved heaven and Earth' to score that Stan Lee cameo

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Mar 26, 2021, 12:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Stan Lee has been kicking around in comic book movies for years, and long before he was hanging with Iron Man and The Avengers, he was sneakily popping up in X-Men movies. Well, Fox’s new series The Gifted has officially carved out its own place in the Lee canon, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy feat to pull off.

Showrunner Matt Nix told The Hollywood Reporter it was not easy to land the 94-year-old legend for a cameo appearance (Lee pops up in the pilot walking out of a bar), and the production team bent over backward to land Lee while he was in the area for a comic convention. Nix is a geek himself, and knew how big it would be to get the geek godfather on screen for the show’s premiere.

So they bum-rushed a shoot, got the show actor needed to tie in the scene there in 20 minutes, and made it all happen in a matter of hours just to land 5 seconds of screen time from Lee. Here's how Nix explained it:

“We moved heaven and earth to get him in there. The morning we got him, one of our co-executive producers texted me in the morning and told me Stan Lee was in town for a comic book convention. We went to the convention to get him on the show, and they told us, ‘He flies out at four. If you can shoot him in two hours, then you can have Stan Lee in the show.’ We didn't have that location. We didn't have anything. We were just like, ‘Okay, it's a bar? Do anything you can. We have to get the bar.'

'We have to get the actor out of bed and bring him down here to put the costume on. We have to shoot the scene in 20 minutes!’ We went down there, we shot the scene, Stan Lee was like, ‘Thanks very much!’ Then he rode off to get on a plane. That's the kind of thing where I think people sometimes underestimate the degree to which we who make the show are just another group of fanboys trying to make something happen by the skin of our teeth.”

Lee has cameoed in almost every Marvel movie over the past few decades, and if anything, his winks at the camera have become a de facto seal of approval that a Marvel project is on the level. Nix and the crew behind The Gifted understand that, and it’s probably why the show ended up being so good in the first place.

The Gifted airs Monday nights on Fox. Were you surprised to see Lee pop up?

(Via The Hollywood Reporter)