Shining Through: A Major New Interview With Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox

by Olly Richards |
Published on

Right from the start, Michael J. Fox has lit up the screen with brightness and joy. As he retires from acting, those days are over. Yet, he says, it’s all about the future...

Read an extract of our exclusive Michael J. Fox interview from our Summer 2023 issue below, or see the full piece here.

Michael J. Fox was in court when he realised he was done. He was on set of The Good Fight, a goofy spin-off of the legal drama The Good Wife, playing Louis Canning, a devious lawyer who exploits a medical condition to win juror sympathy. He loved the part, a juicy recurring guest role that had earned him five Emmy nominations. But this time would be the last. And he wasn’t just done here. In 2020, at the age of 58, 40 years after his first movie role, he was going to stop acting. Because something was different. Fox, who had always prided himself on his ability to instantly memorise a script, kept forgetting what he was supposed to say.

“I thought of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood,” he tells Empire now over Zoom. “There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character can’t remember his lines anymore. He goes back to his dressing room and he’s screaming at himself in the mirror. Just freaking insane. I had this moment where I was looking in the mirror and thought, ‘I cannot remember it anymore.’”

The automatic response you’ve just had reading that is probably some variation on, “God, how sad.” One of cinema’s most adored stars — Marty freakin’ McFly — could no longer do the thing he loved. Fox is used to people feeling sorry for him. He has Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition that causes involuntary movement throughout the body. Over time, people with Parkinson’s will find it harder to control their movements. Walking becomes an act of consciously wrangling every limb. They’ll often lose their sense of smell and, like Fox, experience memory loss. It usually shows its first signs in people over 50, but Fox discovered he had it at an unusually young age, 29, at the height of his fame. It shortened his movie career and eventually brought his whole acting journey to an end. God, how sad. But Fox doesn’t see it that way.

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