Speaking to THR, the filmmaker recalled how producer Avi Arad pushed him into giving Lee some screen time in Peter Parker’s first cinematic outing:
“I got the job for Spider-Man in 1999. And [Marvel head] Avi Arad said, ‘I want you to put Stan in the movie.’ And I was like, ‘No. I know Stan, and he can’t act.’ And Avi was, ‘I want him in the movie. We did it for X-Men, we’re doing it here.’ Now imagine you’re a minor director in England doing Macbeth and you’re told, ‘Put the writer in the play.’ It sounds absurd.