MICHAEL J FOX
So Michael J Fox…. Love him! Always have. Always will. He was the actor I loved most growing up and I had to watch every film and TV show he was in. To say I was heartbroken when I first heard he had Parkinsons Disease back in 1998, is an understatement. But then I read his autobiography Lucky Man, and realised that he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself, in fact the complete opposite, and I loved him even more.
I admired his strength and determination to find a cure for Parkinsons, through his work with his own Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research. Since its inception in the late 90s, the organisation has already funded a massive $179 million for research into a cure. Go Michael!
These days he doesn’t act as much, for obvious reasons and spends more time as dad to his four kids, Sam (21), twins Schuyler and Aquannah (16 years-old) and Esme (nine, above) from his wife Tracey Pollan, who he met on the set of the popular 80s sit-com Family Ties.Is it sad that I still remember the day his oldest son was born, back in 1989? Yeah, probably.
Okay, so let’s go back… My love affair with Michael began in the early 80s. Most of us remember Family Ties, right? The show where Michael played the young republican son of liberal parents. Alex P. Keaton was the memorable characters name, and although Michael didn’t start off as the star of the show, by the fourth episode the live audience’s reaction to Alex soon changed that around. I admit I wasn’t a ‘huge’ fan of Family Ties and only rarely caught it, but I do remember seeing Michael in it and thinking ‘hmmm… he’s cute’.
But it was his movie work that MJF really had an impact on me, Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success, Casualties of War, Bright Lights Big City, The Hard Way and of course the Back To The Future trilogy. Yep, I watched and loved them all, including the dodgy ones. lol! I actually bought the Secret of My Success on video for my brothers for Christmas one year in the late 80s/early 90s. Still got it. It’s pretty battered though as we watched it so much. Great film about a kid from Kansas who goes to New York city to become a success, but of course that journey doesn’t run smoothly. After watching it so many times I can recite the whole script, which can get annoying if other people are watching it with me. I’ve even got the soundtrack – its all coming out now, innit? Lol!
And everyone remembers Teen Wolf, don’t they? And if you are one of the few that has never seen it, then UK satellite channel Paramount shows it every other week, so tune in regularly and you are sure to catch it. That film is a classic, cring-worthy werewolf transformation and all.
But of course the creme de la creme of MJF’s career has to be the Back To The Future movie trilogy! The time traveling action adventure, where a Delorean car is transformed into time machine, which exports the film’s hero, Marty McFly and his trusty companion Doctor Emmett Brown (whacky scientist and inventor of the time machine) in to the future and the past. I’m gonna get extremely over the top and emotional right now and say those movies (particularly part one and two) changed my life. I was never the same again after seeing part two. I already wanted to be a journalist, but after seeing that I really wanted to be extremely creative and different than the norm. It was an exciting feeling. The storyline (written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale) was so different to anything else out, very clever I thought. And whose with me for rating Biff Tannen one of the best movie baddies of all time? OF ALL TIME *Kanye voice*. And the icing on the cake was it featured cute Michael in his Calvin Klein jean jacket, red body-warmer and classic white Nikes with the red ticks!
When it comes to Back To The Future trilogy, I am a complete and utter geek! I know all the catchphrases such as ‘Nobody calls me chicken!’, ‘Hello! Is anybody home? Think McFly. Think’, ‘Great Scott’, ‘Whoa, this is heavy’…. And I’ve watched all three a million times a piece.
And a long before Eddie Murphy made the Nutty Professor, BTTF did the whole using one actor as several different characters thing with Marty playing his son, daughter and his older and younger self all in one film (BTTF2). I know it had been done before in movies but for my generation, back in the 80s, it was pretty cool to see Michael J Fox doing it. And one of my favourite movie scenes of all time is in BTTF 2 when old Biff goes back in time to give his younger self the sports Almanac book with all the sporting event results, to make him rich. The exchange between the two is so entertaining. Young Biff cracks me up.
In BTTF 2, we also get a peak into the future, or what the filmmakers predicted the future would be like. That film was set in 1985, and the future they depicted was 30 years later, in 2015. It was a world where cars flew in the sky, dogs walked themselves with a lead, trainers/sneakers tied their own laces, and when you ordered a drink from a bar, it would appear out of the table. And of course there was the hoverboard, a skateboard like device that allowed you to float in the air. Apparently toy company Matel (the manufactured of the one in the film) actually made some of these when the film came out, but they were deemed to dangerous, and never released. With five years to go before 2015, I can’t see any of the other stuff happening either, can you?
The funny thing about this film is that MJF almost wasn’t even in it, as he was working on Family Ties at the time and although the producers wanted him when Family Ties decide it may interfere with the show, the BTTF peeps deferred to another actor, Eric Stolz. At the time Michael wasn’t even aware that all this had happened. However after a few weeks of filming it wasn’t working out with Eric so the makers of the film went back to the makers of Family Ties, who told MJF about the offer and then agreed to hash out a deal where Michael could film both. He did the sit-com by day and the film by night, which was obviously a very heavy schedule, but well worth it in the end!
Michael’s film career had a bit of a dip in the early 90s, but he managed to get back on top again, by going back to his TV roots, with the popular sit-com Spin City (above) in 1996. It was based on a fictional local government, running New York City, with MJF in the role of deputy mayor Mike Flaherty. By the time this show came on air Michael’s Parkinson’s, still not public knowledge was already at a developed stage, and it was a huge effort for him to hide his condition from people on the show, as only a few were aware. He eventually came clean in 1998 and then later retired from the show in 2000 to spend time with his family and work full-time with his foundation.
DID YA KNOW?
- Michael J Fox should really have been called Michael A Fox since his middle name is Andrew. Using any sort of initial in his name came about when Michael wanted to register as an actor and discovered there was already a ‘Michael Fox’. He felt using the A would mean reporters would no doubt have a field day with headlines such as ‘Michael, A Fox’, so he instead adopted the middle initial J as homage to character actor Michael J. Pollard.
- Michael was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He became an American citizen in 2000, as after living in America for 20 years, he a bit bothered about not being able to vote.
- During his career, Michael has received a slew of awards, including five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.
- Michael is 5’4″ tall. Bless.
- Michael started displaying symptoms of early-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1990 while shooting the movie Doc Hollywood. However he was not properly diagnosed until the following year.