It seemed like a good idea to Denis Leary at the time.
At Tuesday's Television Critics Assn. press sesh, the "Rescue Me" star and co-creator/executive producer was extolling the virtues of Michael J. Fox, who along with Maura Tierney ("ER") heads the guest cast list for the series' upcoming fifth season, starting in April. Fox will play the paraplegic new boyfriend of Janet (Andrea Roth), the ex-wife of Leary's Tommy Gavin.
But then Leary realized that the four-time Emmy-winning "Family Ties" and "Spin City" star is going to give him nightmares, offscreen as well as on.
"You know what's gonna happen," Leary said. "He's really great. It's a dramatic role, with comedic elements. He brought extra stuff to it. His first day on the set was two very heavy, psychotically-driven scenes in a bar. (The character's) got a drinking problem. So the crew, who had not worked with Michael for the most part, were kind of thrown off. They thought Michael was really like this – that's how good he was.
"And it dawned on me how great he was, in terms of being devoted to this character coming in … and I was across from him, so I had three things going on. One was my concern for him as a friend, like 'I hope he feels all right.' Then, he was bringing so much to the plate, I was, "I've really got to step it up here.' And third was 'I know what's going to happen.' I never won an Emmy – he's gonna win an Emmy. Five episodes, he comes in … he's gonna walk away with the Emmy. That son of a bitch."
– Jon Weisman