Considering that Michael J. Fox began to scale back his acting roles after revealing that he had Parkinson’s disease in 1998, one would expect that the disease — which causes involuntary movement — would have had major detrimental effects on his acting. However, in an interview with Rolling Stone Fox reveals that he believes that his disease has actually made him a better actor, which is one of the reasons why he is returning to weekly television with The Michael J. Fox Show.
Fox explains, “I had a certain fluidity to my movements and rhythm of speech and a physicality that I had depended on. It served me really well, but when that was taken away, I found that there was other stuff that I could use. That hesitation, that Parkinsonian affect, is an opportunity to just pause in a moment and collect as a character and respond to what’s happening and just gave me this kind of gravitas. It really gave me a new view of things.”
Comparing how he acted previously to how he acts now, he adds, “I used to be really nervous and sit in my dressing room and fret about a scene that was coming up and sweat it out and say ‘What am I going to do? You say action and I have to do something. What am I going to do? And what’s that actor going to do? And how do I respond to that?’ And now it’s just like ‘Okay, what’s happening?’ And something happens, I react to it and if nothing happens, I don’t react. I don’t worry about that bit I was going to do or the look I was gonna give because when I get there I may not be able to give that look or do that thing or move that glass.”
In that sense, Fox is now sometimes “reacting” more than he is “acting” while filming a scene. It’s certainly a more positive way of looking at it than “I can’t do this anymore,” right?