Michael J. Fox has always been willing to face long odds. To look the impossible in the face and say, bring it on. Now he’s looking down the road at the final challenge, and he’s as brave as ever.
The Back to the Future star, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for going on 30 years now, addressed the possibility of his impending death in a bold new interview with Town & Country on Thursday. And he brought his trademark pragmatic optimism and good humor as his sword and shield.
He said about that moment:
“One day I’ll run out of gas. One day I’ll just say, ‘It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today.’ If that comes, I’ll allow myself that.”
He isn’t scared at all? Well, he has had a long time to think about this. The disease, between its degenerative effects on his mind and the nonstop injuries it causes, has been his death sentence for decades.
As he explains, if he “were to pass away tomorrow” at the age of 62 it would still be considered “premature.” He is relatively young. However, he adds:
“But it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that.”
Wow. But like we said, he’s had a long time to think about this. Earlier this year he told CBS Sunday Morning he’s pushed into thinking about it as the disease takes more and more:
“My life is set up so…I can pack Parkinson’s along with me if I have to. Yeah, it’s banging on the door. Yeah, I mean, I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But that’s the way it is.”
So matter-of-fact about it. Hard to imagine feeling that way. But these decades have transformed him from an arrogant young movie star running headlong into whatever life threw at him into a man always thinking about the future. Not just his, either.
The amount of good he’s been able to do as the face of Parkinson’s… with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, he’s raised an estimated $2 BILLION+ for research. And that money and attention has changed things. He tells Town:
“When I was diagnosed, it was like a drunk driving test. Now we can say, ‘You have this protein, and we know that you have Parkinson’s.’ It opens the gates for pharmaceutical companies to come in and say, ‘We’ve got a target and we’re going to dump money into it,’ and when they dump money into it, good things happen.”
What an amazing guy. He was going to succeed at whatever he threw himself into. We wish it didn’t mean he would be facing what he has to face… but we couldn’t pick anyone better to fight for such a great cause.
You can learn more about Fox’s journey in the fantastic documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, available on Apple TV+.