Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Michael J. Fox: I would've ended up in fish plant

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox would have ended up working in a "fish plant" if he wasn't an actor.

The Canadian star moved to Los Angeles when he was younger in the hope of launching his career. Although he won some small television roles, the offers soon dried up.

By the time he landed the part of Alex in TV show Family Ties he was worried things weren't going to work out. Michael appeared in the series from 1982 to 1989.

"I'd be working on a moving van or ¬in a fish plant or something. Only three or four years before, I'd been a kid teetering on the edge of a minimum-wage future. I was doing badly in school because I was doing high school theatre all the time," he recalled to Parade.

Michael can vividly recall how worried he was when he thought he wasn't going to make it in Hollywood. Things really hit home when his father penned him a note saying how proud his family were of him.

"It was grim. I had a girlfriend who moved down from Canada with me, but we were drifting apart. I had no money, no phone. I was ducking the landlord. I was scared," he recalled. "Then my dad wrote me a letter saying, 'We're really proud of what you've done. There's no shame in coming home" and I took it as a reminder of how far I'd come."

Michael has Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1990 when he was just 30. He kept it secret for a long time, but is now open about his illness and works to raise awareness of it.

The 50-year-old star struggled when he first received his diagnosis. He turned to alcohol but gave it up in 1992 when he realised it was adversely affecting his home life. He has four children with his wife Tracy and decided to focus of them.

"At first it was like I was in cement shoes in the middle of the road and a bus was coming and I knew it was going to hit me," he said, when asked how he dealt with having Parkinson's disease. "For a time I chose to deal with it with alcohol, which turned out to be a disaster. I'd always been kind of a partier, but this was the first time I was drinking in order not to feel something. It had a dark purpose.

"I recognised I had choices about drinking, and that made me realise I had choices about Parkinson's as well."

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