Michael J Fox reveals how perspective on his health has changed since Parkinson’s diagnosis

Michael J Fox has revealed how his perspective about his health has changed 33 years after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The 62-year-old spoke candidly about his health during an interview with Entertainment Tonight on 2 April, hours before this year’s “A Country Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s” event, a musical charity in Nashville that benefits The Michael J Fox Foundation. While the former actor was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s - a disorder that affects the body’s nerves and movement - in 1991, he didn’t publicly reveal that he had the condition until 1998.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the Back to the Future star revealed how his outlook about the disease has changed over the years, noting that he doesn’t view his condition in a negative way.

“After 35 years or something since I’ve been diagnosed, this is just my life and I don’t think about it much,” he said about his Parkinson’s. “I don’t even think about [it].”

While Fox acknowledged that his disease isn’t always on his mind, he said he still thinks a lot about the condition as a whole, specifically the goal of finding a cure.

“I’m thinking about what we’re going to do as a community to figure this out and find a cure - and short of a cure, [create] treatment centers that are really groundbreaking,” he said.

He then emphasised that Parkinson’s has simply become a part of his everyday life, adding: “Me personally, it’s just who I am, and the way I was built. And I’m necessarily trying to figure it out for me, I’m figuring it out for everybody. But it just is what it is.”

Fox concluded by expressing his gratitude for all the opportunities he’s had, even amid the difficulties of his health condition.

“My life has been a great ride and it continues to be a great ride,” he added. “And through all the challenges, it comes with all the good stuff.”

Amid his battle with Parkinson’s, Fox rarely makes public appearances in the entertainment industry. However, he did make a surprise appearance at the BAFTAs in February to present the Best Film award. As he arrived onstage at the RoyaL Festival Hall, he was met with a standing ovation and  a rapturous round of applause from the audience.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday, Fox reflected on the love and support he received at the BAFTAs, noting that he still finds it “really surprising”. He acknowledged that while he “loves and appreciates” the standing ovation he got at the awards show, he felt like there was more meaning behind that applause.

“I take it more as recognition of determination and resolve to solve the big problem, and that we all have the power to do whatever it is we can do to move things along,” he said. “I think people are just saying: ‘Thanks for hanging in there and going after this.’ And I appreciate that.”

The Family Ties star specified that when he received the standing ovation, it was more about his optimistic perspective in life, as he’s continued to highlight his accomplishments and challenges he’s faced amid the disease.

“That’s what people were responding to at the BAFTAS,” he explained. "The issue is that people really want to believe that we can do things, and I think they see me as somebody who’s doing that.”

This isn’t the first time that Fox has opened up about his push to find a cure for Parkinson’s. During an appearance on Lorraine in May 2023, he claimed that he felt like a cure for the disease was “closer than it’s ever been”.

“I think we’ve found this biomarker which is huge, identifying the disease and therefore being able to treat it earlier,” he explained at the time. “It was a gigantic breakthrough, we didn’t expect to make it this soon. We were working on it for a long time, 10 years ago we talked about it.”

He once again shared the positive outlook he’s maintained, while addressing his quality of life. “I’m thrilled with life, I love life,” he said. “I’m a very happy person. It’s good, I’m 61 years old and that’s amazing in itself. I’m happy. I’m more happy than not.”

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition in which the brain becomes progressively damaged over many years. Physical symptoms include involuntary shaking of body parts, otherwise known as a tremor, as well as a slowness of movement and other mobility issues.