Michael J. Fox details past struggles with sobriety, Parkinson's and fame

The actor went public with his Parkinson's battle in 1998.

November 9, 2020, 1:51 PM

Ahead of the release of his new memoir, "No Time Like the Future," Michael J. Fox opened up about his struggles with fame, sobriety and the disease for which he's become a tireless advocate: Parkinson's disease.

In an interview with Men's Health, the actor details his life and career, as well as his recovery from spinal surgery and a fall at his home that left his arm shattered.

The injury, he said, left him feeling incapacitated and alone.

"I found myself sitting on that floor going, 'This is f----d-up,'" the normally upbeat "Back to the Future" actor admitted. "I can’t put a happy face on this."

Fox, 59, because a superstar in his 20s due to his starring role in the hit sitcom "Family Ties," which led to the 1985 blockbuster "Back to the Future" -- and all the excesses such fame can bring.

"I was a semi-popular kid growing up," Fox said, "But then when everybody likes you? And every girl? ... It was so alien to what I grew up with, I didn't have any defense mechanisms.'"

At 29 years old, in 1991, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a nervous system disorder that impacts movement. There is no known cause, and complications can include cognitive challenges, issues with swallowing and sleep disorders, according to the Mayo Clinic.

He admitted to drinking heavily at that time, "and it was screwing up my relationships and screwing up my marriage and screwing up my work," he said.

With the love and support of his wife of more than 30 years, Tracy Pollan, Fox found sobriety: "The tools that worked for quitting drinking work even better for [Parkinson's], which are: acceptance and surrender. Not like, 'I give up, 'I quit,' but you just say, 'OK, I cede you the big points.'"

"There's the stuff you plan -- the stuff you work towards ... And then there's things that just happen," he added. "And the things that just happen are usually of a more intricate design and a higher purpose than whatever you come up with."