The new Apple+ documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie reveals previously unknown information about the prolific actor. Michael J. Fox rose to a nearly overnight success after appearing as the hilarious Alex Keaton on the hit NBC sitcom Family Ties before being cast in Back to the Future only a few months later. Fox had enjoyed six years of super-stardom before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an incurable neurological condition, in 1991.
Fox decided not to go public with his diagnosis until 1998. He had initially believed that his honesty about his condition would affect his thriving career after the Back to the Future movies, which is why he decided to keep it private for so long. Fox began taking medication soon after his diagnosis for his trembling hands and fingers, which were the earliest signs of his Parkinson’s disease that began in his early thirties. Since Fox announced his diagnosis, he has still maintained an outstanding acting career, appearing in Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Good Fight, and Designated Survivor. Most recently, Fox served as the central focus of a documentary centered on his career and battle with Parkinson’s, which revealed a number of details about the actor’s life.
10 Michael J. Fox Was Severely Bullied As A Child At School
Michael J. Fox revealed early on in Still that he was severely bullied as a child. Since he was smaller than all the other kids in his class, he confessed in Still that he was constantly picked on, beat up, and shoved into lockers. Despite all of this abuse from his peers, Fox did not give into their cruelty. He was determined to prove himself and demonstrate his immense value in life, which is how he initially got into acting. He joined the drama club at his high school, which became a safe haven for Fox to exist freely without the usual judgment and ridicule he was used to facing from his former teammates growing up.
9 Michael J. Fox Had A Strained Relationship With His Father
Michael J. Fox’s dad became one of his main supporters throughout the beginning of his career, but this was not always the case. Fox did not perform well in school, frequently getting unsatisfactory grades and getting himself into trouble. Fox crashed his dad’s car on more than one occasion, resulting in his father’s disapproval of him and believing that his son could be a “potential f*** up,” as Fox put it. When Fox became serious about acting, his dad was initially hesitant, having given up on his own childhood dreams and becoming a pragmatist. However, Fox’s dad still encouraged his son to follow his dream, and even fronted him the money to move to Los Angeles and get his big break on Family Ties.
8 Robert Redford Flossed His Teeth During Michael J. Fox’s ‘Ordinary People’ Audition
While struggling to find work as an actor in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, Fox tried to get a part in a movie starring Robert Redford. The few small roles and commercial gigs he was able to book hardly supported him financially. Fox had lived in a small apartment in what he described as “the slums of Beverly Hills” and lived primarily on fast food. One of the movies Fox auditioned for during this time was Robert Redford’s eventual Oscar-winner Ordinary People. Apparently, Redford wasn’t impressed by the unknown Fox. Fox recalls Redford flossing his teeth during his live audition. Unsurprising, Fox didn’t get the role.
7 Michael J. Fox Autographed A Lunchbox For NBC Executive That Didn’t Believe In Him
An NBC executive that was responsible for overseeing the development and production of Family Ties adamantly stated that he did not want Fox to take on the role of Alex Keaton. The executive didn’t believe that Fox was the type of person the network could sell on merchandise such as lunchboxes. Fox revealed in Still that he had found out about that criticism and sent an autographed lunchbox with his face on it to the NBC executive. It was a clever way for Fox for to send a reminder that the executive was wrong for not believing in him.
6 Director Of ‘Family Ties’ Hid Spielberg’s Interest In Michael J. Fox For Back To The Future
Gary David Goldberg, director of Family Ties, revealed to Michael. J Fox that he had hidden a request from Steven Spielberg to have Fox audition for the role of Marty in Back to the Future. Goldberg didn’t want to lose Fox as Alex Keaton and kept Spielberg’s interest a secret from Fox for months. Eventually, Goldberg felt compelled to tell Fox after other casting ideas for Marty didn’t work out. Goldberg told Fox that director Robert Zemeckis was going to re-shoot the entire film with Fox in it. Fox agreed to not missed any taping of Family Ties and subsequently joined the cast of Back to the Future.
5 Michael J. Fox Fell In Love With His Wife Tracy For Her Bluntness & Honesty
On the set of Family Ties, Fox met and fell in love with his wife Tracy Pollan. Pollan played one of Fox’s love interests on the show and was a relatively unknown actor at the time. According to the documentary, Fox was becoming a big name in the industry when they met and was used to everyone agreeing with him or telling him exactly what he wanted to hear. Tracy was the first person Fox encountered after his rise to super-stardom that didn’t buy into his ego and spoke to him like he was any other person. Fox fell in love instantly with her bluntness and honesty. The two have been together since and remain happily married with four children.
4 Michael J. Fox Falls Frequently & Breaks Many Bones Due To Parkinson’s
One of the most difficult truths revealed in Still was the frequency at which Michael J. Fox falls and hurts himself due to his Parkinson’s. Fox says the disease makes it difficult for him to walk with consistent stability. Fox remains determined to get around by himself for as long as he possibly can. During the production of Still, Fox arrived to set after an emergency surgery that repaired multiple broken bones under his left eye after a nasty fall. Fox had also broken his wrist and arm due to these frequent falls, adding to the already intense pain he feels every day because of the physical strain from Parkinson’s disease.
3 The Stress Of Working On Weekly Episodic TV Show Exacerbated Michael J. Fox’s Trembling
Michael J. Fox claimed he was determined to continue acting, no matter how difficult it would be. He hid the truth about his Parkinson’s for seven years and found creative ways to mask his hand and arm trembling while acting. One of his most effective methods was fidgeting with an object while he was acting, whether it be a pen or his suit jacket. He worked extensively to make sure that any bodily movements appeared natural and part of his creative choices as an actor. He would time his medication with precision to avoid on-screen trembles until he realized that he didn’t have to hide his condition from the world anymore.
2 Michael J. Fox Tells People “He’s Waiting For The Bus” While He Waits For Medication To Kick In
One of the most admirable qualities about Michael J. Fox is his ability to find a laugh, even in the most difficult and uncomfortable situations. After he announced his Parkinson’s disease, he maintained his good humor and was often cheerfully self-deprecating about his condition. This is how people would still know him as the lovable and talented actor. One of his most iconic lines in Still come from how he described waiting for his medication to kick in. Fox “waits for the bus” for about a minute or two after taking his medication for the trembling to stop until he can find “stillness“. It’s a testament to the great wit and charm that Fox has always had, and the stillness that he constantly aims for.
1 Michael J. Fox Reveals The Worst Part Of Parkinson’s Is Feeling Constrained
The darkest moment of Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie is when Michael reveals his true feelings of what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s, which he described in a word as “constrained.” He admits that it’s incredibly limiting to live with the condition from a physical standpoint but also from a mental perspective as well. He notes in the documentary that the feeling of not being able to do something because his body won’t let him is the absolute worst part of living with Parkinson’s disease.