Michael J. Fox

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-hour Archive interview, Michael J. Fox talks about his early years breaking into television in his native Canada, where he starred in the CBC series Leo & Me. He describes his move to the U.S. and his early roles in features and television, including parts on Lou Grant and Family and a regular role on the short-lived dramatic series Palmerstown, U.S.A. He details his big break playing "Alex P. Keaton" on the hit series Family Ties, and speaks at length about his co-stars and show creator Gary David Goldberg. Fox discusses his feature film career and how he won the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future, and recounts his work as the lead actor and executive producer of the television series Spin City. He shares his reaction to being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 and what motivated his decision to go public with the news of his diagnosis in 1998. He comments on the formation of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, and touches on some of his current projects -- voice-over roles in feature films and a book deal. James Moll conducted the interview in New York, NY on May 10, 2001.

"I just knew that was my part. I knew. I got it; I understood it. I thought I knew how to make it funny. I was basically just playing my brother, you know, who was the smart-ass in our family and who was so much smarter than everybody else. I never understood the idea of timing, but I knew that my brother was so funny that you'd wait for what he had to say... That all became part of Alex."

Highlights
On struggling to be an actor, how he needed a big break when he got an audition for Family Ties
01:11
On how Brandon Tartikoff had wanted to fire him -- he didn't see Fox as a lunchbox icon
01:38
On knowing that the role of "Alex P. Keaton" was for him
00:50
On being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease while filming Doc Hollywood and how that affected his professional decisions
02:58
On how to be a great, attractive comedian - risk looking unattractive
00:33
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on wanting to "not have a real job" when he grew up
06:44
On his grandmother's prediction for him
02:39
On acting in junior high and high school; on his first professional job out of junior high, Leo and Me, and the difficulties of working and going to school simultaneously
05:58
On doing the television movie Letters From Frank with Art Carney and Maureen Stapleton
03:30
On moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting; on the advantages of looking young
06:01
On his first auditions in Los Angeles and working on Lou Grant, Family   and Palmerstown U.S.A.
04:35

Chapter 2

On working on the Norman Lear-Alex Haley drama, Palmerstown U.S.A and flattening his Canadian accent; on differences between doing film and television
05:30
On trying to get acting jobs so he could stay in the United States
02:26
On auditioning for and winning the part of "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties
21:25

Chapter 3

On Family Ties co-stars Justine Bateman and Tracy Pollan
08:48
On the cancellation of Family Ties and doing Back to the Future simultaneously with the series
02:42
On Teen Wolf and Back to the Future
04:31
On fame and celebrity; on the support from fans
06:14
On his famous Pepsi commercials; on voiceover work for Homeward Bound, Stuart Little, Atlantis
03:00

Chapter 4

On some of his film work: Light of Day, The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights Big City, Casualties of War; on the public's response to him in serious roles
08:09
On wanting to direct
02:23
On being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease while filming Doc Hollywood and how that affected his professional decisions; on working with Woody Allen
On acting and executive producing on Spin City
13:44
On deciding to leave Spin City after 100 episodes and Charlie Sheen becoming the new lead
04:47
On going public with his bout with Parkinson's Disease
02:01

Chapter 5

On his life since Spin City; on starting his foundation; on writing a book and producing pilots
04:08
On his proudest professional and personal achievements
02:45
Shows

All in the Family

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Michael J. Fox on how impressed he was to meet Norman Lear; admired Lear's show All in the Family
02:13

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Michael J. Fox on winning an Emmy Award for his role on Family Ties ; getting advice on what to say: "I feel four feet tall"
02:34

Family

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Michael J. Fox on working on Family
00:56

Family Ties

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Michael J. Fox on struggling to be an actor, how he needed a big break when he got an audition for Family Ties
01:11
Michael J. Fox on how he was cast as "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties ; initial reservations about him
06:24
Michael J. Fox on what the premise of Family Ties  
03:35
Michael J. Fox on the character "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties
01:30
Michael J. Fox on how co-stars Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross dealt with the young star's fame on Family Ties
03:23
Michael J. Fox on Justine Bateman and the working relationship of cast of Family Ties
02:46
Michael J. Fox on the cancellation of Family Ties
02:42
Michael J. Fox on Family Ties co-stars and producers
11:30

Late Night with David Letterman

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Michael J. Fox on his success with The David Letterman Film Festival
02:23

Leo & Me

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Michael J. Fox on his first acting job for Canadian Broadcasting, Leo & Me
02:53

Letters From Frank

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Michael J. Fox on his first television movie for American television, Letters From Frank
01:08

Lou Grant

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Michael J. Fox on working on Lou Grant
00:19

Palmerstown U.S.A.

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Michael J. Fox on working on Palmerstwon U.S.A 
00:49

Roots

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Michael J. Fox on meeting Alex Haley and loving Roots
01:02

Spin City

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Michael J. Fox on Spin City
18:23
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Michael J. Fox on the character "Archie Bunker" from All in the Family
01:38
Michael J. Fox on "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties; what Gary David Goldberg intended with the character
03:35

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Michael J. Fox on his childhood influences
09:44
Michael J. Fox on how his brother was his inspiration for "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties
00:48

Emmy Awards

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Michael J. Fox on winning an Emmy Award for his role of "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties
02:34

Fame & Celebrity

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Michael J. Fox on fame and celebrity

Ronald Reagan

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Michael J. Fox on how the Republican party embraced his character on Family Ties ; Ronald Reagan wanted to appear on the show
02:06
Professions

Actor

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Michael J. Fox on acting
06:01
Michael J. Fox on struggling to be an actor, how he needed a big break when he got an audition for Family Ties
01:11

Producers

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Michael J. Fox on being an Executive Producer on Spin City
01:46
Genres

Comedy Series

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Michael J. Fox on the early days of Family Ties
21:25
Michael J. Fox on Family Ties
11:30
Michael J. Fox on Spin City
18:31
People

Woody Allen

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Michael J. Fox on working with Woody Allen on a TV movie
02:58

Justine Bateman

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Michael J. Fox on Justine Bateman and the working relationship of cast of Family Ties
02:46

Meredith Baxter-Birney

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Michael J. Fox on how co-star Meredith Baxter dealt with the young star's fame on Family Ties
03:23

Michael Boatman

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Michael J. Fox on Spin City co-star Michael Boatman
00:56

Barry Bostwick

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Michael J. Fox on casting Barry Bostwick as the mayor on Spin City
01:48

James Broderick

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Michael J. Fox on working with James Broderick on Family
00:56

Matthew Broderick

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Michael J. Fox on how Matthew Broderick turned down the role of "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties
01:13

Gary David Goldberg

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Michael J. Fox on how he was cast as "Alex P. Keaton" on Family Ties ; creator Gary David Goldberg's initial reservations about him
01:13
Michael J. Fox on impressing Gary David Goldberg with his second audition
01:16
Michael J. Fox on the premise of Family Ties and who "Alex P. Keaton" was; what Gary David Goldberg intended with the character
03:35
Michael J. Fox on Gary David Goldberg and the cancellation of Family Ties
02:42
Michael J. Fox on Gary David Goldberg wanting to work with him on Spin City
03:23
Michael J. Fox on still being involved with Gary David Goldberg for Spin City
01:40

Michael Gross

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Michael J. Fox on how co-star Michael Gross dealt with the young star's fame on Family Ties
02:23

Alex Haley

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Michael J. Fox on working on Palmerstown U.S.A. with Norman Lear and Alex Haley
00:49
Michael J. Fox on meeting Alex Haley
01:02

Bill Lawrence

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Michael J. Fox on Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence writing the script for Spin City
00:24

Norman Lear

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Michael J. Fox on working on Palmerstown U.S.A. with Norman Lear and Alex Haley
00:49
Michael J. Fox on how impressed he was to meet Norman Lear; admired Lear's show All in the Family
02:13

Heather Locklear

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Michael J. Fox on Heather Locklear
02:03

Tracy Nelson

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Michael J. Fox on an episode of Family Ties with Tracy Nelson playing Alex's girlfriend
01:04

Tracy Pollan

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Michael J. Fox on wife Tracy Pollan as "Alex P. Keaton's" girlfriend and what she brought out in his character
04:13

Ronald Reagan

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Michael J. Fox on Ronald Reagan wanting to be on Family Ties
00:20

Robert Redford

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Michael J. Fox on almost being cast in Ordinary People, but not impressing director Robert Redford
00:18

Alan Ruck

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Michael J. Fox on Spin City co-star Alan Ruck
00:56

Charlie Sheen

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Michael J. Fox on Charlie Sheen coming onto Spin City when he departed
03:44

Aaron Spelling

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Michael J. Fox on Aaron Spelling's comedic genius
00:22

Steven Spielberg

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Michael J. Fox on Spielberg wanting him for Back to the Future
01:44
Michael J. Fox on his success with The David Letterman Film Festival and encouragement from Steven Spielberg to direct
02:23

Lynn Stalmaster

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Michael J. Fox on how casting director Toni Howard, colleague of Lynn Stalmaster, inspired him to go to L.A.
00:37

Eric Stoltz

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Michael J. Fox on Back to the Future's start with Eric Stoltz as the original actor playing Marty McFly
01:11

Brandon Tartikoff

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Michael J. Fox on how Brandon Tartikoff, executive at NBC, didn't like him for Family Ties
00:37
Michael J. Fox on how Brandon Tartikoff had wanted to fire him -- he didn't see him as a lunchbox icon
01:38
On being honored to be part of NBC during its 1980's pinnacle with Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff
00:27

Grant Tinker

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On being honored to be part of NBC during its 1980's pinnacle with Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff
00:27

Michael J. Weithorn

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Michael J. Fox on contributions writer Michael J. Weithorn made to the character "Alex P. Keaton"
00:25

Tina Yothers

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Michael J. Fox on Tina Yothers, who played his youngest sister, "Jennifer" on Family Ties

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