Tomorrow evening's premiere of "The Michael J. Fox Show" on NBC marks the full-time return of one of America's most celebrated actors. Since publicly announcing his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in 2000, Michael J. Fox has been in a quasi-retirement from Hollywood — using that time to focus on family, his foundation for a cure, and bit parts on various television series. In an interview with "TODAY's" Willie Geist, the initial prognosis for achieving any of this was less than optimistic.
"(The diagnosis) came ... with a prognosis that ... I'd have ... maybe 10 years left to work," Fox told Geist of the moment doctors confirmed the disease in 1991. "I was just married and my son was just born and my father had just passed away. And it was — all kinds of stuff going on and — and it flattened me." Over the next decade, Fox continued working in film and television, including his Emmy-winning role in "Spin City."
"I thought it was the last of me in series television," he said of his retirement from that series in 2000.
In a Google Hangout earlier this year, Fox described how, as time went by, he found himself able to work with his medication to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's and find moments for acting again. He also embraced yoga and Pilates as a way to ease the muscle tension the disease causes.
"Over time, I did other shows and just realized that's what I do, and I just tried to put out a message of live for today and reach for your goals, don't be intimated by a diagnosis — and I realized that I needed to live by my own words and I wanted to act again," he says. "So I put it out there and I said I can do this — but the only thing I can't do is play someone who doesn't have Parkinson's."
In the show, the 52-year-old actor plays NBC News anchor Mike Henry, who decides to return to television after retiring years earlier due to Parkinson's. The network, already expecting big things from the sitcom, has ordered a full 22 episodes.
"It's more (work) than I thought it would be, but I've handled it better than I thought I would," Fox told Geist. "It's what I do, it's what I have done for years, and it's what I enjoy doing."
Check out Fox's full interview with Geist below. "The Michael J. Fox Show" premieres Sept. 26 at 9/8C on NBC.
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