Michael J Fox opened up about living with Parkinson’s disease as he and wife Tracy Pollan took their documentary STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie to Austin, Texas for the annual SXSW Conference.
The Back To The Future star, 61, was diagnosed with the condition in 1991 at age 29 and hid the disease for seven years by carrying props in his left hand, where the telltale shakiness first started.
Chatting about his diagnosis in a Q&A on Tuesday at the event he said: ‘Parkinson’s sucks, but it’s a great life, so thank you for it.
‘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.’
‘My fans have basically given me my life. I wanted to give these people who have done so much for me my time and gratitude. It was great for me to hear from all of you.’
Honest: Michael J Fox opened up about living with Parkinson’s disease as he and wife Tracy Pollan took their documentary STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie to Austin, Texas for the annual SXSW Conference
On how he ‘mobilized’ people to care about Parkinson’s, he added: ‘I didn’t have a choice. This is it. I have to give everything I have, and it’s not lip service. I show up and do the best I can.’
On his period working after his diagnosis he went on to explain: ‘I have no regrets. You do what you have to do, but you do not want to kill your self. And that’s when I stopped.’
He was joined by wife Tracy at the event.
The longtime couple, who have been married for 35 years and share four children, looked like lovebirds on the red carpet leading into the screening.
Pollan, 62, looked stunning in a green jacquard suit with a black v-neck top and black shoes. Her shoulder-length, blonde hair was parted in the middle and loose around her shoulders.
Fox wore a short-sleeved, black collared shirt with a pattern of white snowflakes on it over a white t-shirt. He paired that with dark wash jeans and black sunglasses.
The film, according to a release from SXSW, ‘incorporates documentary, archival and scripted elements, recounting Fox’s extraordinary story in his own words – the improbable tale of an undersized kid from a Canadian army base who rose to the heights of stardom in 1980s Hollywood.
‘The account of Fox’s public life, full of nostalgic thrills and cinematic gloss, unspools alongside his never-before-seen private journey, including the years that followed his diagnosis with Parkinson’s.’
Fox rose to fame in the 1980s on the sitcom Family Ties, where he met his future wife when she was cast to play Ellen, the girlfriend of his character Alex P. Keaton.
He cemented his star status in blockbuster movies including the Back to the Future franchise, Teen Wolf, The Secret to my Success, Doc Hollywood, and many more.
The Family Ties alum married Pollan in 1988 and they welcomed four kids: son Sam, 33, twin daughters Aquinnah and Schuyler, 28, and daughter Esmé, 21.
When Fox was 29, he woke up with a tremor in his pinky that would not go away. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991.
He drank and popped dopemine pills to medicate the symptoms and allow him to deal with it.
The actor debuted the film at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January.
Three decades: The longtime couple have been married for 35 years and share four children ranging in age from 21 to 33
Director: Fox and Pollan on the red carpet at SXSW with STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie’s director David Guggenheim
Family affair: Pollan and the couple’s four kids all appear in the film
In the film, fans will watch the actor working with a trainer to help build strength, walking through the streets of Manhattan, and repeatedly falling.
‘A festival of self-abuse,’ the Back to the Future star joked about the film. ‘You get Parkinson’s, you trip over stuff.’
Deadline’s Pete Hammond wrote that the documentary has ‘the spirit of the kind of 80’s movies that helped make Fox a very big star on both big and small screens.’ According to the awards columnist, the film explores Michael’s life growing up in Canada to leaving school at 17 to gamble on a career in Hollywood.
‘The star here, as always, is Fox himself, battling the intense effects of the Parkinson’s disease he has had since being diagnosed at only age 29, but successfully and enthusiastically telling his story, a single talking head shot, straight into the camera.’
Despite the hardships of the disease, the actor said at the Q&A after the premiere that he has loved his life.
‘I love my family, I love what I do, I love that people react to what I do. I know that I can be an example of other people and help them deal with their issues without them asking me without me [to] put force of myself on them.
‘It’s an amazing life and I’m enjoying it,’ he said during a Q&A after the Sundance premiere.
The actor retired from his profession in 2020. He is now writing books about his experience and is funding research in Parkinson’s through his Michael J. Fox Foundation.
‘People express to me that I make them feel better and do things that they normally wouldn’t do,’ he said. ‘That’s a big responsibility.’
Answering questions: Fox also spoke at a Q&A for the film on Tuesday at the SXSW Conference
Good times: The actor laughed while addressing the audience at The Paramount Theater
The director: The documentary’s director Davis Guggenheim joined Fox at the Q&A
Screening: The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January
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