Stan Lee Once Pitched Phil Lord and Christopher Miller 7 Ideas in 45 Minutes

Stan Lee and inset of  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller - Getty-H 2018
Jun Sato/WireImage; Cindy Ord/Getty Images
The 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' producers write that "creation was as automatic as breathing" for the late Marvel icon.

Years before Phil Lord and Christopher Miller broke out with 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, they managed to get a meeting with Stan Lee, who died Monday at age 95. Lord and Miller recall the meeting, below.

We met Stan in San Diego after sneaking into a Comic-Con party in 2003. Or rather, we forced him to meet us. He was as gracious and inspiring then as he was years later when we met him at his POW! offices. He did the meeting as a favor to a friend — we clearly had nothing to offer him. But we had made Clone High at that point and met with him to see if there was anything we could do together in TV animation.

When we came in, we thought we were going to pitch him ideas, but he ended up pitching us no less than seven ideas in a 45-minute meeting. That’s just the kind of guy he was — an idea machine. He seemed to be a man to whom creation was as automatic as breathing. We were lucky to have him adorn our movie [Spider- Man: Into the Spider-Verse, set to open Dec. 14] with his voice [cameo].

But we were even luckier to have him writing notes to us while we were growing up. His letters to the Marvel faithful addressed us all as True Believers, and it made us feel like we were part of something. That someone saw us. That we had a friend out in the world. Excelsior, Stan. 

This story appears in the Nov. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.