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Michael J. Fox: Parkinson's Made Me a Better Actor

'I don't worry about that bit I was going to do,' Fox says, 'because I might not be able to do it.'

September 16, 2013 8:00 AM ET
Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox on the cover Rolling Stone.
Mark Seliger

Parkinson's disease has changed a lot about Michael J. Fox's life – but it's not all been for the worse, the actor tells senior writer Brian Hiatt in interviews for Rolling Stone's latest cover story. Fox, who's returning to TV on NBC's The Michael J. Fox show, says that in many ways, his acting has improved.

Michael J. Fox and the Complete Rolling Stone Covers of 1986

"I had a certain fluidity to my movements and rhythm of speech and a physicality that I had depended on," he says. "It served me really well, but when that was taken away, I found that there was other stuff that I could use. That hesitation, that Parkinsonian affect, is an opportunity to just pause in a moment and collect as a character and respond to what’s happening and just gave me this kind of gravitas. It really gave me a new view of things."

"I used to be really nervous," Fox continues, "and sit in my dressing room and fret about a scene that was coming up and sweat it out and say 'What am I going to do? You say action and I have to do something. What am I going to do? And what's that actor going to do? And how do I respond to that?' And now it's just like 'Okay, what's happening?' And something happens, I react to it and if nothing happens, I don't react. I don't worry about that bit I was going to do or the look I was gonna give because when I get there I may not be able to give that look or do that thing or move that glass."

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