Michael J Fox explains why he didn’t ‘freak out’ when he began to forget lines after Parkinson’s diagnosis

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Michael J Fox explains why he didn’t ‘freak out’ when he began to forget lines after Parkinson’s diagnosis
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Michael J Fox has described his reaction when he began forgetting lines while filming TV projects.

The Back to the Future actor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 1991 at the age of 29. He later founded a charity which works to further treatment of the condition.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he recalled an incident on the set of The Good Fight.

“When I did the spinoff from [The] Good Wife, which is [The] Good Fight, I couldn’t remember the lines. I just had this blank, I couldn’t remember the lines,” he said.

Fox said he used to be able to memorise scripts “in an instant” early in his career, but that he couldn’t “get this line together” on The Good Fight. He then suffered “the same problem” on the Kiefer Sutherland drama Designated Survivor.

“It was this legal stuff and I just couldn’t get it,” he said. “But what [was] really refreshing was I didn’t panic. I didn’t freak out. I just went, ‘Well, that’s that. Moving on. A key element of this process is memorising lines, and I can’t do it.’”

Back in 2020, Fox said he could be at “the end of his acting career” due to the worsening symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Elsewhere in the THR interview, he said his experience forgetting lines brought to mind a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, in which Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) furiously berates himself in the mirror after forgetting a line during filming.

“He went back in the dressing room, he was screaming at himself – he was like tearing into himself in the mirror and drinking. Just a mess,” he recounted. “And I thought about that, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to feel that. Am I wrong to feel that? Am I right to feel that?’

“I don’t take on something with a lot of lines, because I can’t do it. And for whatever reason, it just is what it is,” he added. “I can’t remember five pages of dialogue. I can’t do it. It can’t be done. So I go to the beach.”

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