Michael J. Fox is an acting legend who, at this point, is known just as much for his advocacy for Parkinson’s disease research and awareness as he is for his classic sitcom and movie roles. That’s because since, at age 29, he was diagnosed with the disease, Fox has had to steadily cut back on his acting roles and devote more time to other things in life. And these other things have included not only trying to figure out how to live with the debilitating disease, but also how to help find a cure for it. These days Fox is seen in public a lot less, and he’s fully retired from acting. But fans were psyched to see him at a recent public appearance in October of 2022. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Michael J. Fox Gives Health Update in His Rare Public Appearance
Fox’s Appearance at Comic Con
Michael J. Fox surprised and delighted fans when he showed up at the 2022 New York Comic Con. He was joined by his castmate from the Back To The Future movie series, Christopher Lloyd, and the two reminisced about their time together filming the iconic set of movies. Among the topics they covered was the fact that the part of Marty McFly originally went to actor Eric Stoltz. They filmed for a month with Stoltz, before he was replaced with Fox. That meant they had to completely reshoot everything they had already done. This was no issue for Fox, since he was just joining. But for Lloyd, it meant he had to redo everything. At the Comic Con panel, Lloyd remembered thinking that he had barely made it through those first six weeks of shooting, and now they were asking him to do it all over again.
Fox recalled that their chemistry was intense and immediate. He admitted to being trhilled every day by getting to work opposite a comedic legend like Lloyd, who, at the time, was a fan favorite on the hit show Taxi. Fox admitted that much of his technique during the filming of Back to the Future was simply reacting to the amazing work Lloyd was doing opposite him. And that made the job much easier. He said he decided early on in filming to just sit back and enjoy what Lloyd was bringing to the scene. That meant that any day of shooting that he had opposite Christopher was, in his mind, a good day.
As elder statesmen and accomplished artists, the two were asked by the panel’s host to give words of wisdom to the folks at home. Lloyd took the opportunity to quote Back To The Future, saying, “Your future is what you make of it, so make it a good one!” Michael J. Fox also decided to leave the audience with a movie quote, only it wasn’t from one of his own. Instead, he quoted from the classic Kubrick movie, Doctor Strangelove. He said, “”You can’t fight in here, this is the war room.” And then he added that in time of chaos and negativity, you have to simply “suck in your breath, go ahead, and carry on.”
However, it was not all lighthearted fun, as Fox revealed at New York Comic Con that his mother, Phyllis, had passed away only two weeks prior. Fox took the opportunity to remember her fondly, and even told a story about how his mom advised him against doing Back To The Future. Fox was starring in the sitcom Family Ties at the time, a job which required a lot of time and effort. He called his mother at one point, who was living in Canada, and told her he’d been offered the lead in a Steven Spielberg movie. And while she was excited for him at first, she was less so when he told her about his potential schedule. He was going to have to film the movie during the night, while being on set for Family Ties during the day. His mother immediately dismissed the idea, telling him not to take the movie, since he’d be too tired. Fortunately he decided not to heed his mother’s advice on that one, and was able to star in both projects.
Like Michael, Phyllis had spent years as a passionate advocate for Parkinson’s awareness and research. This obviously was triggered by Michael’s diagnosis at age 29. Not long ago Michael created a video along with AARP that they shared on Instagram. In it, he talked about how optimism from his parents helped shaped his own optimism about his condition. He spoke of how his parents were just “regular folks” – his dad was a police dispatcher and his mom was a payroll clerk. But then they had what he called a ‘freak son’ who was a gifted performer. And despite having no clue how to help him succeed, they remained optimistic and figured it out. This continued when Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. In the video, he recalled having an internal crisis as recently as 2018. He was feeling particularly frustrated and saddened by his condition. But he had an important moment where he realized that if he could always find things to be grateful for, he’d be able to sustain his optimism throughout the rest of his life. And his optimism has translated into dollars, as he’s helped raised more than a billion dollars for Parkinson’s research in the last few decades.
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In 2020, Fox released a book called, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality. In it, Fox shared stories from his life and career, and told of his optimistic take on the future. This is the fourth book Fox has written, and it’s a candid look at his life, and having to deal with Parkinson’s as his symptoms continue to affect his daily life. And it’s a refreshingly optimistic take on his condition, and how it forced him into early retirement. In 2000, the disease first took its took on Fox, forcing him to leave his hit show, Spin City. But he only referred to it as semi-retirement. This was because while he wasn’t able to act as a lead on a show, he was still able to make occasional appearances help produce as well.
However, in his 2020 people, he admitted that the toll that the disease has since taken on him have meant that he would need to go into permanent retirement. In the book, he talked about the rigors of acting, which include memorizing many pages of dialogue every day, and then working for 12 hour shoots, are too much for his body to handle.
But even in full retirement, Fox put a positive spin on the situation. He left things open to the idea that maybe he’ll someday come out of this ‘second’ retirement. Fox admitted that, since everything always changes, so too could his status as a retired actor. And we can certainly hope that prediction comes true!
Fox Has A Great Attitude About His Sickness
While promoting his 2020 book, Fox gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. In the interview, Fox gave details about his struggle with Parkinson’s disease over the years. He also told audiences about a previously unknown episode that he suffered – a tumor he had at one point on his spine. He had to have it surgically removed, because it was threatening to leave him paralyzed. He also told Stephanopoulos about a broken arm he’d had. And yet, even with those revelations, Fox displayed his eternal good spirit and optimism. He said that he’s stopped counting the years that he’s had the disease. That’s because he doesn’t let it define him. And he pointed out that since he’s made peace with having the disease – after having it for half of his life at that point – he doesn’t need to keep track of how long he’s had it. And Fox’s optimism doesn’t just extend to ignoring the details of his biography with the disease. He actually credits the disease with many good aspects of his current life. He told Stephanopoulos that the space that Parkinson’s takes up in his life has allowed him to shift focus during the other times in his life. And that has, over the years, allowed him to thrive in other ways. He used the examples of taking the time to learn and play golf, travel the globe, and spend more time with friends. And clearly the implication was that f he’d never been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it’s likely that his acting career would have continued to take up a ton of time, leaving him little time for those types of enjoyable things.
Fox Called Parkinson’s A Gift
Fox went as far as calling his diagnosis a gift. In a video Fox posted on Instagram with the release of his 2020 book, Fox thanked all his fans for the tremendous support he has received over the years. And he referred to getting Parkinson’s as the best thing that’s ever happened to him. He said that he considers the disease a gift, since it has changed his life for the better in so many ways. He continued in his video by saying that if he could do it all over again, he wouldn’t change his diagnosis. He also pointed out that the medical and research community is still making progress in their fight against the disease. His proof of this progress was the fact that he was sitting for so long, simply making the Instagram video. He claimed that 15 years before, he would never have been able to sit there for that long. So clearly, Fox has been able to take this intensely challenging diagnosis and maintain a positive and thankful perspective on his life.
Now it’s time to hear from you. What’s your favorite Michael J Fox role? What about your favorite role of Christopher Lloyd’s? Let us know in the comments below!