For the third time in his impressive television and movie career, Michael J. Fox has landed on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The last time was in 1986 when the actor's career was exploding thanks to films like "Back to the Future," "The Secret of my Success" and "Teen Wolf." A little over five years later, he would be diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson's disease — but would go on to continue working in film and television, including his Emmy-winning role in "Spin City." In 2000, he publicly announced his diagnosis and decided to reduce his full-time commitments in Hollywood. This fall, he'll return to television full time in the new NBC series "The Michael J. Fox Show."
"I'm really excited about it," he said during a Google Hangout earlier this year
. "What happened was that I devoted the last decade to working with the foundation, and I was really tired after 'Spin City' and not familiar with the medication in a way that I am now — and I just burnt myself out. But 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. 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 interview with Rolling Stone, Fox admits that there was a lot of doubt about his ability to handle the physical demands of a full-time television series.
"People said, 'Are you sure you can handle this?'" Fox recalls. "'Are you sure you can take it on? Are you sure you can deal with it?' And I said, 'No. I'm not sure I can, but I want to and I have an opportunity to.' And another side of it, that I don't deal with every day but is certainly present, is that on some level it might be empowering for people."
The 52-year-old added that when it comes to his symptoms "people look at me and have fear and sadness in their eyes, which they think they're seeing reflected back at them. They wouldn't see what I'm really feeling, which is, 'I'm OK!' But people are afraid.
"I did an interview with Larry King and it was a little more disjointed and fractured than usual, and I realized that it was the first time I'd talked to him since my diagnosis and that he was afraid. So I had to understand that before people deal with me, they're going to deal what they think I'm going through. Then time will pass and then they'll realize that this is just my life, the stuff I was given to deal with."
"The Michael J. Fox Show also manages a far more impressive feat; it upstages the curiosity factor of Parkinson's with a heartfelt, family-centered story that's similarly honest about the ups and downs of life. It doesn't take long to look past Fox's tremors and get absorbed in his more relatable (at least for most of us) struggles of raising kids and balancing work and home responsibilities, and the messages that emerge here self-affirming for families and easily tailored to their own unique struggles."
"The Michael J. Fox Show" premieres on Sept. 26 on NBC. The new issue of Rolling Stone hits newsstands on Sept. 13. Check out a trailer for the series below.
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