Michael J. Fox: Laughing at Parkinson's Better Than Crying About It
Since then, he's made acclaimed guest appearances on shows including "The Good Wife," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and "Rescue Me," but now Fox is returning to star in his own TV sitcom, "The Michael J. Fox Show." He's still healthy and at the top of his acting game. And now, Fox can make fun of the disease that once threatened to shorten his career.
[Related: Michael J. Fox Talks Going Back To Work]
Fox's character on the new NBC comedy also has Parkinson's, and it's the subject of some of the show's jokes.
"On rare occasions, people say, 'How can you laugh about this?' Well, what's the other option? Crying about it, which doesn't make sense to me," Fox told Bruce Fetts in the new issue of Emmy magazine. "If you laugh at something, you take the sting out of it — you take the power out of it."
Fox insists he isn't really making fun of the disease or himself. "I'm just saying, these are the realities of my world, and this is how I choose to look at it: through humor," he said.
Rather than being the butt of the joke, Fox says, heis the perpetrator.
Fox's health has become part of the character he's played over the years — first on "Curb Your Enthusiasm," where a version of Fox relied on Parkinson's as an excuse to be rude. Later, on "The Good Wife," his wily lawyer, Louis Canning, had no problem using the disease to manipulate judges and juries.
But while Parkinson's does figure into the new sitcom, it won't be a pervasive issue. "It plays a much smaller part than you'd think in the show — and in his real life," says his TV wife, Betsy Brandt ("Breaking Bad").
Fox takes care to make sure his health doesn't affect the shooting schedule, though he did have to forego a live audience. Still, that he's taking on a lead role (as well as producing duties) amazes former "Spin City" co-star Connie Britton.
"The fact that he's doing a sitcom right now, with his physical condition, is just mind-boggling," the "Nashville" star says. "He is such an inspiration for humanity and the power of the human spirit."