Michael J. Fox Reveals Why He Struggles Acting Decades After Parkinson's Diagnosis

More than 20 years after he revealed to the world that he was battling Parkinson's Disease, Back to the Future and Spin City star Michael J. Fox opened up during a recent interview about the difficulty he has memorizing his lines, and how that has reduced the amount of acting that he can do since his diagnosis. Aside from revealing that he suffered a tumor that nearly left him paralyzed, and frankly discussing the rigidity and tremors that are the best-known and most-recognizable symptoms of Parkinson's, Fox admitted that most of his creative outlets have been stymied by the disease, leaving him with writing as a last refuge, but a comforting one.

When Fox announced his diagnosis in 1998, he was heading up Spin City, the long-running sitcom from Scrubs and Ted Lasso showrunner Bill Lawrence. In 2001, he stepped away from that show, effectively replaced by Charlie Sheen, but has never stopped working since (although he has slowed down).

"My short-term memory is shot," Fox admitted in an interview with People magazine. "I always had a real proficiency for lines and memorization. And I had some extreme situations where the last couple of jobs I did were actually really word-heavy parts. I struggled during both of them."

Fox recently had a recurring role on The Good Wife, and has appeared in a pair of episodes of the spinoff The Good Fight. In 2018 he also had a brief run on Designated Survivor. Fox has periodically done some voice work -- notably for American Dad and the Stuart Little movies -- which may seem like an obvious way for him to keep acting in some capacity if he wants to, since he can have the script at hand in the booth.

Fox has turned his eye toward becoming an author, with an autobiographical book, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, out on November 17. It details some of the struggles he has overcome since his diagnosis, and how he manages to stay positive when a lot of people would think he has reason to be pretty upset.


"I'm down to this," Fox told People of the writing. "My guitar playing is no good. My sketching is no good anymore, my dancing never was good, and acting is getting tougher to do. So it's down to writing. Luckily, I really enjoy it."

The issue of People will be on the stands on Friday. No Time Like the Future hits bookstores and digital platforms on November 17.