You’ll likely be seeing less of Michael J. Fox on screen in the future.
Speaking with comedian Mike Birbiglia on Monday’s episode of his podcast “Working It Out,” the “Back to the Future” star opened up about a decline in memory skills that has affected the acting roles he chooses to take.
Fox, 60, has been open about his battle with Parkinson’s disease after first getting diagnosed at 29. He has continued to act, most recently in a two-episode appearance in 2020 on the Paramount + series “The Good Fight.”
“I couldn’t remember the lines,” Fox said of the experience. “I just had this blank … I couldn’t remember the lines. And it was weird because on ‘Family Ties,’ (producers) used to give me the script and I’d go, ‘I’m in. Mallory , get off the phone. ‘ And I knew it, like an instant. And it continued to be that way for me. “
The actor recalled watching Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood” and identifying with a scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton, a TV Western star, struggles with forgetting his lines.
“(Dalton) went back into the dressing room, he was screaming at himself, he was like tearing into himself in the mirror, and drinking. Just a mess,” Fox said. “And I thought about that, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to feel that. Am I wrong to feel that? Am I right to feel that?'”
He added: “But here’s what it tells me: I don’t take on something with a lot of lines because I can’t do it. And for whatever reason, it just is what it is. I can’t remember five pages. of dialogue. I can’t do it. It can’t be done. So I go to the beach. “
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Fox is known for upholding optimism amid hardship. But that doesn’t mean his positive outlook came easily.
“I realized that I’ve been selling that optimism to people for so long,” Fox reflected in a 2020 interview with USA TODAY. “I believe it’s true to my core, but it struck me that at that point I questioned it, and I questioned it really severely. And so the rest of the book is this journey through finding my way back with gratitude. And I think gratitude. is what makes optimism sustainable. “
Along with wife Tracy Pollan, Fox said humor has been a key component to dealing with challenges.
“We deal with what’s funny in the situation at first,” Fox says. “We laugh about it and then we deal with it. But always humor. Humor is the filter for everything.”
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Acknowledging bleak realities is the first step to improving your state of mind, he also noted.
“I think the first thing you have to do is accept if you’re faced with a difficult situation,” he says. “And once I do that, that doesn’t mean I can’t ever change it. I can change it, but I have to accept it for what it is first, before I can change it. And I have to be real about. And. Once I do that, then it opens all doors. “
Contributing: Charles Trepany