In 1991 at the age of 29, Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. A doctor told Fox that we would be lucky to work for another 10 years. Even though Fox did semi-retire in 2000 as his symptoms worsened, the actor came back and provided two more decades to his already phenomenal career. However, in his newest memoir, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,” Fox has said that he is now entering retirement for the second time in his career.
In the book which comes out today, Michael J. Fox says, “There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday, and memorizing seven pages of dialogue, is best behind me.” Fox continues that, “At least for now…I enter a second retirement. That could change, because everything changes. But if this is the end of my acting career, so be it.”
No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Morality is the fourth memoir from Michael J. Fox, following 2002’s Lucky Man: A Memoir, 2009’s Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, and 2010’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned. As the book titles imply, Fox has always remained incredibly optimistic even after his diagnosis, as the aforementioned quote hints that his situation could theoretically get better in the future, which could lead to his return to acting.
After retiring in 2000, Michael J. Fox still made cameos here and there. After retiring in the fourth season of Spin City, Fox returned for a few appearances and made a cameo in Spin City creator Bill Lawrence’s next show, Scrubs. Fox continued to guest here and there, taking on more substantial roles. In 2006, he appeared in four episodes of Boston Legal, and in 2009, he would appear in five episodes of the FX series Rescue Me, which won Fox an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2010, Michael J. Fox took on a recurring role in The Good Wife, which earned him three Emmy nominations, and in 2011, Fox would play himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm in a role where he could poke fun at his Parkinson’s disease. In 2013, Fox took on his biggest role post-retirement with the NBC comedy, The Michael J. Fox Show. In the show, Fox played Mike Henry, a former news anchor with Parkinson’s disease, who left the job to try and focus on his family and his health, but years later, tries to return to his job. The series was given a straight-to-series order, yet only 15 of the 22 episodes aired in the United States before the show was canceled.
With Michael J. Fox’s latest book, he comments on the failures of The Michael J. Fox Show, saying that he believes the fact that his character has Parkinson’s freaked the studio out, and that he didn’t have someone by his side during the show’s development that was fighting for his best interest. Most recently, Fox was cast in the second season of Designated Survivor, appeared as his The Good Wife character Louis Canning in the show’s spinoff, The Good Fight, and appeared as Marty McFly in a teaser video for Lil Nas X’s upcoming Christmas song, “HOLIDAY”.
Beyond his career, Michael J. Fox digs deep into his personal life in No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Consider Morality. Fox discusses his problems with drinking, his difficulties in getting around using a cane and wheelchair, and breaking his arm after suffering a fall. But even with all these situations making Fox’s life harder, it seems as though the actor is able to find the positive side of things, work towards making himself better, and pressing on.
Yet Michael J. Fox does discuss his work since coming out of retirement, saying that his Emmy-winning role on Rescue Me was one of the favorites of his career, his worries about disappointing Spike Lee, and how freeing it was to make fun of himself with Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But Michael J. Fox has worked for over forty years, a tremendous career that includes Family Ties, the Back to the Future series, Teen Wolf, Spin City, and an impressive resume full of cameos on excellent shows. While we certainly hope that Michael J. Fox returns to our screens in the future, he’s already done so much he can be proud of, and hopefully, after another retirement, Fox will once again show Parkinson’s disease just how strong he is.