Michael J. Fox Fires Back at Critics


Actor Michael J. Fox jokes that he may be short in stature, but he's still enough of a "big boy" to withstand criticism over his backing of embryonic stem cell research -- including comments by radio personality Rush Limbaugh initially questioning whether Fox may have exaggerated Parkinson's disease tremors in a televised political ad.

The ad in question had Fox backing Democrat Claire McCaskill in her effort to unseat Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and critics have denounced Fox as a mouthpiece for Democrats. He denied that charge to ABC News in a Sunday exclusive interview on "This Week."

Fox said that rather than partisan politics, he is most concerned with widening federally funded embryonic stem cell research -- and supporting candidates who would do so.

"I'm not a shill for the Democratic Party," Fox told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos. "I approached them. I sat down to find out what candidates are pro-stem cell in races where they're opposed by anti-stem cell candidates. And I had no predisposition toward Democrats or Republicans. It'd be fine with me either way.

"In fact," he added, "a Republican candidate who's pro-stem cell would be someone I'd really like to talk to. And in fact in the past I've supported, I've done commercials for [Sen.] Arlen Specter, [R-Pa.] who is a very aggressive pro-stem cell champion."

Following is the text of Fox's interview with Stephanopoulos.

Watch "This Week" to see the interview for yourself. Check your local listing for airtimes.

George Stephanopoulos: Michael, good to see you again.

Michael J. Fox: Thank you. Good to see you.

Stephanopoulos: You know, you made about as much news as President Bush this week. Did you expect to get hit this hard?

Fox: No, I mean, I expected there to be a swift response of some kind. But I mean, you know, particularly from the talk show group, when I heard that response, I was like, "What, are you kidding me?" I was, I mean, "You kidding me?" I was--

Stephanopoulos: You're talking about Rush Limbaugh?

Fox: Yes. It seemed just so, "No, it can't be."

Stephanopoulos: You couldn't believe it, but your mom was mad.

Fox: My mom was. Yes, she was not happy. Well, because she was with me when I shot the ads. And, she was visiting. And it's uncomfortable for her to see me not feeling well. And she knew, because what I was dealing with at that time, which was dyskinesia, which was a reaction to the medication. She knew how hard I was struggling to stay still. I truly wanted to stay still. It's more comfortable. It's not comfortable to be moving around. The goal is to be as calm as I can. So she was noting that struggle to my friends who were with her while I taped.

So then to hear that reaction made her livid. She was just, and, the way Irish moms can get, you know.

Stephanopoulos: Or Greek moms.

How does it work? You know, you take the medication. How do you know when you're going to be more in control or more out?

Fox: The thing is that, you know -- again, I've been diagnosed for 15 years, which means I probably have had the disease for 18, 19 years. They say by the time you show symptoms that 80 percent of the dopamine-producing cells in your brain are gone.

So, for example, when I first disclosed I had, it was after keeping it secret for seven years. I disclosed it partly because there was going to be no hiding it anymore pretty soon. And for all those years, I'd masked it with medication.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...