Belfast Telegraph

Fox on acting nerves

Michael J. Fox doubted his performance skills with Parkinson's disease.

The Back to the Future star was diagnosed with the condition in 1991. It means his nervous system is effected by tremors, muscular rigidity and slight imprecise movements.

Because of this lack of control over his actions Michael found it hard to get back into the industry. However, after going through a rough patch he now doesn't dwell on what he can't do and instead focuses on his strengths.

"I used to be really nervous and sit in my dressing room and fret about a scene that was coming up and sweat it out and say, 'What am I going to do? You say action and I have to do something. What am I going to do? And what's that actor going to do? And how do I respond to that?'" he told Rolling Stone magazine. "And now it's just like, 'OK, what's happening?' And something happens, I react to it and if nothing happens, I don't react. I don't worry about that bit I was going to do or the look I was gonna give because when I get there I may not be able to give that look or do that thing or move that glass."

Despite the struggle the 52-year-old actor sees some plus sides in having Parkinson's. Michael uses any momentary halts while filming to think about how he can make his performance better. He can be seen doing this best in his new TV programme The Michael J. Fox show, which sees him play a TV reporter who tries to work with Parkinson's.

"I had a certain fluidity to my movements and rhythm of speech and a physicality that I had depended on," he admitted. "It served me really well, but when that was taken away, I found that there was other stuff that I could use. That hesitation, that Parkinsonian affect, is an opportunity to just pause in a moment and collect as a character and respond to what’s happening and just gave me this kind of gravitas. It really gave me a new view of things."

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From Belfast Telegraph