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Michael J Fox recently “got the spirit” of Back to the Future

Fox explains that he's struggled to appreciate his own work, but Back to the Future is "a big giggle"

Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future

We all enjoy Back to the Future right? The time travel movie is an ’80s classic, with great performances, direction, and music. Michael J Fox, who plays lead character Marty McFly, only really understood the appeal of the science fiction movie recently.

“It’s amazing — more people, of all ages, approach me now about that movie than ever before. I’m not sure I understood why,” he tells AARP The Magazine. “Then I came across it on TV last Christmas. And I thought I was really good in it, better than I thought I’d been. More important, I got the spirit of the movie.” He calls the ’80s movie “a big giggle”, before explaining that’s something we all need to “appreciate that much of life has been great and that there’s a lot more to live”.

On the subject of his body of work as an actor – which, besides the Back to the Future trilogy, includes kids movie Stuart Little, monster movie Teen Wolf, and a brief role in TV series Scrubs – he says boxer Muhammad Ali helped him enjoy his career more. “I wondered about Ali, whom I had become friendly with,” he recalls. “He’d been such a beautiful athlete before Parkinson’s. So, after he died, I asked his wife, Lonnie, if he ever watched recordings of his fights. ‘He watched for hours,’ she said. He loved it!’ And I thought, Yeah, I should love it, too. It’s a legacy, some graffiti that leaves a message of positivity.”

Fox’s movies do tend to leave one smiling. Homeward Bound, Mars Attacks!, The Frighteners, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Doc Hollywood, his presence often means we’re in for a good time.

Unfortunately, he gave up acting altogether in 2020, having suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 1991. Though his regrets are few, there’s one role he’d like to have to another go at, using what living with the condition has taught him. “I would do Casualties of War again,” he says, “with a better understanding of the cruelty and suffering and beauty and sublime qualities of all that mishegoss that I was trying to negotiate while not getting beat up by Sean Penn.”

You can find Back to the Future on streaming service Now TV in the UK, or Netflix in the US. You can read more about The Michael J Fox foundation for Parkinson’s Research here.