‘An Inspiration: Always’: Michael J. Fox Presented With Honorary Oscar

Photo from Michael J. Fox Instagram

‘An Inspiration: Always’: Michael J. Fox Presented With Honorary Oscar

By Movieguide® Contributor

Michael J. Fox was presented with an honorary Oscar at this year’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 13th Annual Governors Awards.

Fox was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in honor of his work surrounding Parkinson’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1991. He founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 and the organization has been working to find a cure for the disease. 

Woody Harrelson, a longtime friend of Fox, presented him with the award. 

“Michael J. Fox sets the ultimate example of how to fight and how to live. And today, he is as beloved for his activism as he is for his acting,” Harrelson said

“Michael J. Fox never asked for the role: Parkinson’s patient or disease advocate. But make no mistake, it is his greatest performance,” he continued. “Michael brought the world to the same place where we all feel invested in finding a cure for a cruel disease. Vulnerable: yes. A victim: never. An inspiration: always. And a living, breathing symbol and singular voice to help advance progress toward a cure.”

Harrelson also noted that Fox’s foundation has raised over a billion dollars for research and therapy for the disease. 

Fox thanked his family as he accepted his award, all of whom were in attendance at the ceremony. He shares four children with his wife of 34 years, Tracy Pollan. 

Before leaving the stage, Fox said, “I cannot walk and carry this thing,” referencing his trophy. “But I ask Tracy to once again carry the weight.”

Movieguide® previously reported on Fox’s battle with Parkinson’s, as well as how his family has supported him:

Michael J. Fox has had his fair share of hardships, but the actor relies on daily gratitude to overcome his setbacks. 

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was just 30 years old. 

“It’s weird that I’ve done as well as I have for as long as I have,” he shared. “People often think of Parkinson’s as a visual thing, but the visuals of it are nothing. On any given day, my hands could be barely shaking…It’s what you can’t see — the lack of an inner gyroscope, of a sense of balance, of peripheral perception. I mean, I’m sailing a ship on stormy seas on the brightest of days.”

Even though Fox acknowledges his struggles living with Parkinson’s, he still considers himself a lucky man.

“It began with the tough working-class family I was born into,” the actor shared. “Then I met the woman I married and had the children I had and lived the life I live. Still, it’s hard to explain to people how lucky I am, because I also have Parkinson’s.”

He continued, “Some days are a struggle. Some days are more difficult than others. But the disease is this thing that’s attached to my life — it isn’t the driver. And because I have assets, I have access to things others don’t. I wouldn’t begin to compare my experience to that of a working guy who gets Parkinson’s and has to quit his job and find a new way to live. So, I’m really lucky.”

Fox has recently spoken about how health struggles and setbacks have impacted his typical sunny outlook, but the actor remains positive. ​​

”I am genuinely a happy guy,” he explained. “But as I came through that darkness, I also had an insight about my father-in-law, who had passed away and always espoused gratitude and acceptance and confidence. And I started to notice things I was grateful for and the way other people would respond to difficulty with gratitude. I concluded that gratitude makes optimism sustainable.”

He went on, “And if you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, keep looking. Because you don’t just receive optimism. You can’t wait for things to be great and then be grateful for that. You’ve got to behave in a way that promotes that.”

Fox also revealed what he hopes his legacy will be, naming his children and his work in the entertainment industry. 

“At a deeper level, I hope people see sincerity in the things I’ve said and done,” he continued. “If I’ve positively helped anybody with Parkinson’s, that’s great, too. I appreciate the purpose and the opportunity to help the foundation, to be part of something that’s potentially so powerful and life changing and world changing — that’s huge.”

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