Audience: At what time in your life did you feel that something was wrong with your body?
Michael J. Fox: In 1991, I noticed a twitch in my left little finger. As a precaution, I made an appointment with a neurologist who assured me that I had probably hurt myself without realizing it! Six months have passed and there, I discover that it is no longer just the little finger that is shaking on its own, but my whole hand! I went to another doctor who diagnosed me with Parkinson’s disease. A disease that generally affects people over 60. I was only 29!
What was your very first reaction?
I shared the bad news with my wife Tracy, who started crying. It was so unexpected and unfair! We hugged and swore we would fight together! But despite everything, we said to ourselves that it was a medical error… We consulted four other specialists who were categorical: I had Parkinson’s. As I am a rational person, I tried to find an explanation. I thought it could be related to the hockey accidents of my childhood or the stunts performed during filming. I really wanted to understand the why and how. Until I realized that in fact fate and fate were responsible. There are guys who win the Loto jackpot and others who are affected by the disease!
“My son saw immediately that I was shaking”
At first you didn’t want to reveal that you were sick…
Yes, but it has become difficult to hide it! At home, Sam, my son, as cunning and insolent as Marty McFly, had seen that his dad’s hand was shaking. He nicknamed me Daddy Shaker! (Laughs.) It even became a game! My twins were born in the middle of a crisis. Just when the disease was starting to mess with my brain. Of course, before expanding the family, with my wife, we assailed the doctors with questions. They assured us that this evil was not genetic and that there was no contraindication to having other children. We didn’t have to be asked!
And in work?
It was complicated! In 1998, photographers were waiting for me to arrive at the Golden Globes. I was sitting in the limo when I felt my left arm and leg shaking uncontrollably. I then asked the driver to take another lap of the block. Three laps later, my meds worked and I was able to walk the red carpet without anyone finding out! That night, I even won the trophy for best actor.
“I have long been in denial!”
Were you ashamed?
No, but I couldn’t admit my vulnerability. I was lying to myself. I was in total denial! For seven years, I shot lots of comedies. I wanted to stuff myself, because I knew my time was running out. One of the reasons I left the Spin City series was because I felt the muscles in my face tense up. If you watch episodes from the last two seasons, you’ll see that I was often clutching a desk or leaning against a wall. That’s when I started the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. It is thanks to her, to the love of life, of my wife and my children that I held on!
You still have a sense of humor…
Yes ! I am an avid golf player. I am often asked on the green: What is your handicap? I answer: “Can’t you see it?” One day I found myself at a fiesta with the Rolling Stones guitarist. So I said to my wife, “Look honey! Keith Richards looks better than me! That’s crazy!” Sometimes I think it’s all just a bad dream. I wake up and I don’t pay attention. So I fall. I learned over time to fall so as not to injure myself too much!
And you still have your energy, despite the illness!
I am the fourth in a family of five children and I have constantly tried to distinguish myself, to exist, to make my mark! It was all the harder since I was not tall. My dream was to become a professional hockey player! But I was never selected. So, I fell back on acting and I got high to get there!
Do you think we will ever be cured of Parkinson’s disease?
I’m convinced ! But not in my lifetime. If I had a time machine like in Back to the Future, I would jump into the future to meet the scientists and other doctors who will succeed in eradicating it forever!
June 9, 1961 Michael Andrew Fox was born in Edmonton, Alberta, a Canadian province. Her mother Phyllis is an actress and her father William, a Canadian veteran.
2 1985 His role as Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future elevates him to stardom in Hollywood and makes him known around the world.
July 16, 1988 He marries actress Tracy Pollan, who played the role of his first girlfriend in the Sacred Family series. Together, they will have four children.
2022 Davis Guggenheim makes a documentary about his life and his battle with Parkinson’s disease for Apple TV+. It should be released in 2023.
See also: “A crazy!”, “He knows nothing about sport!” : back after his forced withdrawal from the antenna, Laurent Luyat lynched by Internet users!
Interview by Franck Rousseau