“Parkinson’s sucks, but it’s a great life,” he said during a recent fan Q&A.
Michael J. Fox is getting candid about living—and working—with Parkinson’s disease.
Following a screening of his new documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, at South by Southwest Film Festival yesterday, March 14, the Back to the Future star opened up about living with the diagnosis, which he received in 1991 at the age of 30.
As reported by People, during the post-screening Q&A, Fox, 61, was asked about how he “mobilized” his fanbase to bring awareness to the disease, to which he responded that he had no choice.
“This is it,” he said. “I have to give everything I have, and it’s not lip service. I show up and do the best I can.”
He also noted that his documentary—which “follows the life of beloved actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, exploring his personal and professional triumphs and travails, and what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease,” per IMDB—was intended to give back to the fans that have supported him for all of these years.
“My fans have basically given me my life,” he said, adding, “I wanted to give these people who have done so much for me my time and gratitude.”
He turned to director Davis Guggenheim as he added, “Parkinson’s sucks, but it’s a great life, so thank you for it.”
He continued, speaking transparently, “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.”
And for Guggenheim’s part, while he, of course, wanted to touch on Parkinson’s, he didn’t want the disease to be the main focus of the documentary.
“David said early on, ‘I want to cover Parkinson’s, but I don’t want to make a movie about Parkinson’s.’ He made a movie about life,” Fox said. “He made a conscientious decision not to make a movie about Parkinson’s.”
So they took “documentary, archival and scripted elements” and combined them to allow Fox to tell his own story in his own words, according to the film’s full description.
Fox also confirmed that he has no regrets about the time spent working following his diagnosis, or his decision to retire in 2020. “You do what you have to do, but you do not want to kill yourself. And that’s when I stopped.”
And it’s clear he knew what he was doing throughout his career, seeing as he’s earned five Emmys throughout the years, making him one of the most-awarded actors.