Q: How did you get involved in this project?
A: I was at the gym watching Oprah, and Ron Clark came on the show. Oprah introduced him as her first Phenomenal Man of the Year, and, 15 minutes into the interview, I realized I was crying. I left the gym, called my partners Brenda Friend and Adam Gilad (also executive producers on the project) and we drove to Disneyland, where Ron was presenting the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year Award (he was the recipient in the year 2000). We had lunch with Ron. We auditioned for him more than he auditioned for us.
Q: What was it about Ron Clark that made you want to develop THE RON CLARK STORY?
A: It was the fact that there was this young man who didn't want to be a teacher, didn't want to be a hero and doesn't want glory for himself. He actually wants the opposite of all those things. He wanted to go around the world, have adventure and live a young man's dream, and he gets sidetracked into this world of the classroom, which is the smallest place for a dreamer. The classroom for Ron is a box, and he thinks he's going to be trapped in it, so he turns that box into the biggest universe imaginable. He takes these kids every minute of the day on an adventure that is so inspiring, you can't believe there are people this good and this exciting, passionate and intelligent. All of that was part of Ron on Oprah that day. He cares so deeply about children and about them not just getting a good education, but becoming good people, good citizens. I'm not doing anything but making movies. He's changing lives.
Q: What do you think of Matthew Perry portraying Ron Clark?
A: Matthew is so right for this role. He brings all the essence of Ron's sweetness, strength, determination and boyishness.
Q: Why is this movie a good fit for the JOHNSON & JOHNSON SPOTLIGHT PRESENTATION® film series?
A: This movie is about caring, nurturing, love and decency - all the values Johnson & Johnson embodies. Johnson & Johnson is a brand that I rely on, that I have faith in. That doesn't happen very often, where that synergy is so organic and so genuine and so historically genuine. This company is founded on that relationship, and Ron's foundation as an educator is that same value.