Michael J. Fox Says He's Retiring From Acting Due To Declining Health

by Christina Marfice
Originally Published: 
Nicholas Hunt/Getty

In his newest memoir, Michael J. Fox details the effects that Parkinson’s disease has had on his life for 30 years

It’s been 30 years since Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease at just 29 years old. Since being diagnosed, the former heartthrob and Back to the Future star has been open about his journey with the disease, publishing a number of memoirs that captured readers with his constant optimism about the future, despite the awful hand he’d been dealt. The fourth of his memoirs, No Time Like the Future, was just released this week, and in it, the actor gave a surprising and heartbreaking update about his career.

Due to the progression of his Parkinson’s, Fox wrote, he’s retiring from acting.

“There is a time for everything, and my time of putting in a twelve-hour workday, and memorizing seven pages of dialogue, is best behind me,” he wrote. “At least for now … I enter a second retirement. That could change, because everything changes. But if this is the end of my acting career, so be it.”

This isn’t the first time Fox has retired due to his health. In 2000, shortly after his diagnosis, he retired from his leading role on the sitcom Spin City. However, at that time, he continued to take on guest roles in shows like Scrubs, Rescue Me, The Good Wife, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Then, from 2013 to 2014, he came back from his semi-retirement to star in his single-season comedy series, The Michael J. Fox Show.

Now, though, Fox is 59. He’s been battling Parkinson’s for 30 years. As he told a reporter from the Irish Times for a recent profile, “not being able to speak reliably is a game-breaker for an actor.” It really does feel like this retirement might be for good.

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Heartbroken fans were quick to take to social media to share their dismay, but also their support for Fox.

In his book, Fox was candid about what his future looks like as his disease continues to progress.

“Absent a chemical intervention, Parkinson’s will render me frozen, immobile, stone-faced, and mute – entirely of the mercy of my environment,” he wrote. “For someone for whom motion equals emotion, vibrance and relevance, it’s a lesson in humility.”

But despite that, he’s always stayed positive. As he told the Irish Times reporter, “Optimism is informed hope. You’ve been given something, you’ve accepted it and understood it, and then you have to pass it on.”

He added, in his new book’s epilogue, “With gratitude, optimism becomes sustainable.”

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