Michael J. Fox says 'Back to the Future' helps keep him optimistic

Michael J. Fox gave a health update amid his longstanding battle with Parkinson's disease. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Michael J. Fox gave a health update amid his longstanding battle with Parkinson's disease. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Back to the Future star Michael J. Fox says the hit film helps keep him optimistic.

The 60-year-old actor gave a health update in an interview with AARP magazine published Tuesday amid his longstanding battle with Parkinson's disease.


Fox played Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985) and its sequels, Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990). The film's lingering popularity has kept Fox connected with fans and helped cement his legacy.

"It's amazing -- more people, of all ages, approach me now about that movie than ever before," Fox said. "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," he added. "I understood it was just a big giggle and that we all need -- and I mean the readership of this magazine, too -- to take credit for what we've done and the lives we've touched and to occasionally step back a bit and appreciate that much of life has been great and that there's a lot more to live."


Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and went public with his illness in 1998. Fox continued acting for almost 30 years after his diagnosis, despite his health struggles.

"When I couldn't act the way I used to act, I found new ways to act. But then I reached the point where I couldn't relay on my ability to speak on any given day, which meant I couldn't act comfortably anymore. So, last year I gave it up," he said.

Fox said he has few regrets about about acting roles he was approached about but didn't pursue, but named Ghost as one of them.

"Now I can't imagine anyone other than Patrick Swayze doing it," he said of the 1990 film. "If I could go back and put all I've learned from Parkinson's into a role, I would do Casualties of War again, with a better understanding of the cruelty and suffering and beauty and sublime qualities of all that mishegoss that I was trying to negotiate while not getting beat up by Sean Penn."

Fox ended by sharing his hopes for his legacy, saying he hopes his children will be a positive influence in the world, that people enjoy his work as an actor, and that people see "sincerity in the things I've said and done."


"If I've positively helped anybody with Parkinson's, that's great, too," he added.

Fox released a new memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, in November 2020. In the book, Fox discusses how breaking his arm in 2018 led to his "darkest moment" and shares stories, including how he watched Back to the Future with Princess Diana.

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