Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox Talks Not Feeling Sorry For Himself Amid Parkinson's: 'Pity Is A Form Of Abuse'

Home / Entertainment / Michael J. Fox Talks Not Feeling Sorry For Himself Amid Parkinson's: 'Pity Is A Form Of Abuse'

By Fiyin Olowokandi on March 16, 2023 at 11:00 PM EDT

Michael J. Fox cannot afford to feel sorry for himself as he opens up about living with Parkinson's disease for over three decades.

Fox was first diagnosed with the condition in 1991 but went public in 1998, leading him to become an advocate for finding a cure. Unfortunately, the symptoms worsened, forcing him to retire in 2020. Nevertheless, he seems to be living a great life amid the diagnosis and claims to have no regrets.

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Michael J. Fox Believes There Is 'Stuff' To Be Learned From His Parkison's Experience

Following the screening of the retired actor's documentary "Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie" on Tuesday, March 14, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, Fox was interviewed about his health and coping with Parkinson's.

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A Michael J. Fox Movie' Premiere - 2023 Sundance Film Festival
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He was asked how he "mobilized" people to pay attention to the condition, and the iconic actor responded, "I didn't have a choice" adding that he had to give everything he had and show up, doing the best he could.

The "Back to the Future" actor also said, "Pity is a benign form of abuse. 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."

He answered more questions about his documentary alongside director Davis Guggenheim, explaining that the reason behind sharing his story was to give back to his fans who gave him his life.

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"I wanted to give these people who have done so much for me my time and gratitude," he divulged. "It was great for me to hear from all of you." However, amid the positive approach the "Family Ties" alum has to the debilitating disease, he admitted that it hasn't been all rosy.

Directing his words to Guggenheim, Fox admitted that Parkinson's "sucks," but he had a great life for which he remained grateful. He then spoke of the times he worked following his diagnosis, saying, "I have no regrets – You do what you have to do, but you do not want to kill yourself. And that's when I stopped."

As for his film, "Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie," it provides a complete account of his public life and "never-before-seen private journey, including the years that followed his diagnosis." 

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Shedding more light on the film, Fox revealed that the director wanted to cover Parkinson's without making a movie centered on the condition. So he made a "conscientious decision not to focus on condition" but to create something about life. 

After going public with his Parkinson's diagnosis, the "Family Ties" actor confessed that he was surprised to receive massive positive reactions, with many people showing interest in finding "an answer to the disease," which he saw as a great opportunity. 

Fox Credits 'Back To The Future' For Saving His Life

Michael J. Fox attends red carpet for the Tribeca Talks - Storytellers - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival

At 61 years old, Fox is one of the notable names in the industry, who attained fame for his role as Marty McFly in the beloved Sci-fi franchise, "Back To The Future."

While for fans the movie was probably their first known introduction to time-traveling theory and its wonders, for the Canadian native, it was much more than just acting a role. In December 2021, Fox had a chat with AARP, elaborating on the end of his acting career and crediting the franchise for his optimistic stance on life.

Amid the discussion, he stated that he was taken with some of the roles he was cast in after his diagnosis, as many of them allowed him to be witty despite being a disabled character.

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However, that could not go on forever as the Canadian-American reached a point where he could not rely on his ability to speak, meaning he could not act "comfortably" anymore, so he gave it all up.

Additionally, he became depressed at a time in his life, but thanks to fans of the "Back to the Future" franchise, he was able to get out of the emotional decline. In his words,

"It’s amazing — more people, of all ages, approach me now about that movie(Back to the Future) than ever before. I’m not sure I understood why. Then I came across it on TV last Christmas. And I thought I was really good in it, better than I thought I’d been. More important, I got the spirit of the movie. I understood it was just a big giggle and that we all need"

The 'Doc Hollywood' Star Suffered Two Other Health Complications Amid Battle With Parkinson's

While Fox battled Parkinson's, he also suffered two other health challenges, which he spoke candidly about in a 2020 interview.

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Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan are seen at LAX Airport in Los Angeles, California. 30 Jan 2017

He disclosed that he was diagnosed with a tumor in 2018 that constricted his spinal cord and almost caused paralysis. The tumor had to be carefully removed to prevent further complications.

Although the tumor was successfully eliminated, it took the 61-year-old four months after surgery to walk again. And unfortunately, he later broke his arm during a fall in the kitchen of his New York apartment.

That was Fox's darkest moment as he waited for the ambulance to arrive, and he realized there was no bright side, making him feel only regret and pain.

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