“Vanity’s really overrated,” Michael J. Fox says. “I don’t need to be pretty anymore. I just am who I am.”
Those are pretty harsh words for a guy whose adorable features helped to propel him to stardom in the '80s and saw teen girls everywhere hanging up his Tiger Beat posters on their walls. But Fox, whose new show premieres tonight on NBC, has been through too much in recent years to care much about such trivial matters as looks. In 1991, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and told he might have ten more years of acting work left in him. The news hit hard, especially as it came right after his success with the "Back To The Future" trilogies and the start of his family with wife Tracy Pollan.
"My first reaction to it was to start drinking heavily,” he said. "I used to drink to party, but then I was drinking alone...Every day. It was about a year of a knife fight in a closet, where I just didn't have my tools to deal with it. But then after that I went to therapy, and it all started to get really clear to me."
Throughout that time, however, Fox was working, on "Spin City". When that show ended in 2000, he was still around, appearing on successful shows like "Rescue Me" to great reviews. Yet many think he disappeared from the spotlight.
"It's funny, it is kind of weird to have been low-key for a few years ... but I never really went anywhere," he said.
Fox says that learning to live with Parkinson's hasn't been an easy road, particularly for an actor who makes his living relying on facial expressions. But there came a time when he knew he was ready to go back to work, even if he knew it would be difficult. His character on the show addresses some of those issues in the first episode.
"It's more (work) than I thought it would be, but I've handled it better than I thought I would," he said. "It's what I do, it's what I have done for years, and it's what I enjoy doing," he said.
"The Michael J. Fox Show" airs Thursday nights at 9 on NBC.
Image: Wikimedia Commons