Michael J. Fox was my first super star celebrity sportsman experience and it was probably the best. Michael had just completed BACK TO THE FUTURE and Pepsi signed him to a deal to do the commercial COPIER. We were in preproduction for the spot already and were having trouble casting when the deal for Michael was made. The agency art director came to me in a panic one night saying that Michael would ruin the commercial. Since we had not found anyone any good at all after extensive casting I wondered what he was thinking. To me, it was a win-win situation directly from the Joe Pesci – Robert DeNiro scene in RAGING BULL. I told the art director, “Look, if the commercial works, you take all the credit. If it doesn’t, you blame Michael. You can’t lose.”
Michael turned out to be extremely delightful, not unlike the characters he played. After the first day’s shooting, Ted Sann and I found a better way to do the spot. I cautiously approached Michael, expecting an explosion, but he heard the idea and said, “Great. Let’s do it.” The only thing he was upset about was that I wouldn’t let him play basketball with the crew. I used the excuse, “We don’t play with actors.”
We worked together for many years and it’s heartbreaking to see his fight with his health.