Michael J. Fox on Life Beyond Parkinson’s: ‘There’s Stuff to Be Learned From This’

Photo from Michael J. Fox’s Instagram

Michael J. Fox on Life Beyond Parkinson’s: ‘There’s Stuff to Be Learned From This’

By Movieguide® Contributor 

While showcasing a documentary about his life at the SXSW festival, Michael J. Fox talked about the ways he persevered through Parkinson’s and hasn’t let the disease define his life. 

“Pity is a benign form of abuse,” he said, “I can feel sorry for myself, but I don’t have time for that. There is stuff to be learned from this, so let’s do that and move on.” 

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 when he was only 29 years old and went public with the diagnosis in 1998.  

While the disease had made his acting career harder, as it affects his speech and memory, making lines harder to learn, he has “no regrets” that he has continued to act after this diagnosis. 

Parkinson’s could not be omitted from a documentary about Fox, yet the main focus remains on “Fox’s personal and professional triumphs and travails, and [explores] what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease,” director David Guggenheim said.  

“I want to cover Parkinson’s, but I don’t want to make a movie about Parkinson’s,” Guggenheim said early in the project. 

“He made a movie about life,” Fox added, “He made a conscientious decision not to make a movie about Parkinson’s. 

The BACK TO THE FUTURE star created the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2001, which strives to find a cure for Parkinson’s. Over a dozen clinical trials and therapeutic programs have come from the foundation, and it has been a major resource for those previously or newly diagnosed with the disease. 

Movieguide® has previously reported on Fox’s foundation: 

Twenty years ago, beloved actor Michael J. Fox stood in front of Congress with no medication and revealed his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

At the age of 29 years old and amidst a bustling career, Fox was forced to regroup when his pinky finger started to tremble with severity.

The Mayo Clinic’s definition of Parkinson’s disease is as follows: “a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement.”

Until Fox came to the forefront, his Parkinson’s disease was widely unknown.

Now in 2018, Fox believes that his contributions to Parkinson’s are more valuable than any of his acting roles. In a recent article by CBS News, Fox was interviewed along with a panel of other Parkinson’s patients for Fox Insight, a database that connects researchers and patients in order to address concerns and uncover more, “You tell them, when your Parkinson’s start. What was your first symptom? What types of symptoms do you get? What medications do you take? And, the more information they get, the faster they’ll get to a cure,” said participant Claudia. …

Fox ponders on the legacy of his life, “I had a moment with somebody, and they said, ‘Someday there’s gonna be a cure for Parkinson’s and it’s gonna be because of you.’ And to me, this was the first time that it really struck me. And, I didn’t — and not that I took it seriously, but I feel part of something that is much more special — if it happens it’s much more special than any movie or any TV show.’” 

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