Ever since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, actor Michael J. Fox has become the face of optimistic thinking. Despite his struggles with his disease, he has routinely described himself as a blessed man with a fulfilling life. He even titled his memoir, “Lucky Man.”
In a recent interview with Dennis Leary at the Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday night, Fox got candid about his battle with Parkinson’s, admitting that his famed optimism has been in short supply some days to the point of just wanting to call it quits.
“I feel sometimes I don’t want to be selling people the optimism thing because people have tough lives. Depression is real, and things happen to them that I can’t even comprehend. They make my stuff seem like Band-Aids and skinned knees,” Fox told Leary in comments highlighted by Fox News. “So I don’t want to be saying, ‘Cheer up!’ Some stuff sucks.”
Fox admitted this after having a tough year, in which he had to undergo spinal surgery after which he shattered his humerus. He described the difficulty facing all of that in an interview with The New York Times last March.
“I was having this recurring problem with my spinal cord,” Fox told the Times. “I was told it was benign but if it stayed static I would have diminished feeling in my legs and difficulty moving. Then all of a sudden I started falling — a lot. It was getting ridiculous. I was trying to parse what was the Parkinson’s and what was the spinal thing. But it came to the point where it was probably necessary to have surgery. So I had surgery, and an intense amount of physical therapy after. I did it all, and eventually people asked me to do some acting. Last August I was supposed to go to work. I woke up, walked into the kitchen to get breakfast, misstepped and I went down. I fractured the hell out of my arm. I ended up getting 19 pins and a plate. It was such a blow.”
Speaking with Leary regarding that experience, the “Back to the Future” star said he was “out of the lemonade business” for awhile as a result.
“I’m known as a guy who makes lemonade out of lemons, but I was out of the lemonade business: ‘I can’t do this anymore, I can’t,'” Fox said. Though he felt like he was at the end of his rope, Fox said that what centered him was remembering to take each moment at a time. “But then I realized that I have to take every step one at a time now, and that slows life down. You have more time that way. Every step is a new adventure. I could fall down, not fall down, I could go off this way, go backwards — who knows?”
Fox said he hopes that ultimately his Parkinson’s research foundation will have helped lead to a cure. “After I’m gone, if I had something to do with [finding a cure], that will be great,” he said.