Michael J. Fox had recently been thinking about the mortality associated with Parkinson’s, the disease he’s dealt with for the last 30 years.
“It’s banging on the door,” Fox tells Jane Pauley during a “CBS News Sunday Morning” interview that airs this weekend. “I mean, I’m not gonna lie. It’s getting hard … it’s getting tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But that’s the way it is. I mean, you know, who do I see about that?”
Fox, 61, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 29, a moment he recalled as “scary” when he was still fresh off the successes of the “Back to the Future” franchise and sitcom “Family Ties.”
He continued acting, starring in six seasons of the political comedy “Spin City,” voicing the memorable rodent protagonist of “Stuart Little,” playing the titular character in NBC’s short-lived “Michael J. Fox Show,” and appearing in supporting roles in the hit shows “The Good Wife,” “Designated Survivor” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
But Fox’s health has deteriorated since he underwent a risky spinal surgery in 2018 to remove a tumor, unrelated to Parkinson’s. He had to learn to walk again. The process has been rough and has led to scary falls in recent years.
“It messed up my walking … and then, started to break stuff,” Fox said during the CBS interview. “Broke this arm, and I broke this arm, I broke this elbow, I broke my face. I broke my hand.”
In his 2020 book, “No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality,” Fox shared how one of those serious falls forced him to miss a cameo in the 2019 Spike Lee-produced movie “See You Yesterday.” (Netflix eventually funded a pickup day, allowing Fox to complete his scene once he recovered.)
During the interview, he explained how falling “is a big killer with Parkinson’s,” along with “aspirating food and getting pneumonia.”
“All these subtle ways that get ya,” he said. “You don’t die from Parkinson’s — you die with Parkinson’s.”
Such day-to-day challenges have had him “thinking about the mortality of it.”
“I’m not gonna be 80,” Fox said. “I’m not gonna be 80.”
In November, Fox received an honorary Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, for his advocacy of research on Parkinson’s disease.
“Michael J. Fox never asked for the role: Parkinson’s patient or disease advocate,” said fellow actor Woody Harrelson, who presented the award to Fox during the Governors Awards ceremony in 2022. “But make no mistake, it is his greatest performance.”