Michael J. Fox has never been still. It wasn’t until his battle with Parkinson’s disease that he slowed down and began living in the moment.
Wickedly funny and self-deprecating, Fox – in the documentary film “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” — recounts his sudden rise to fame in the 1980s and the moment he fell in love with actress and future wife Tracy Pollan, who played Alex P. Keaton’s girlfriend in Season 4 of “Family Ties.” His Parkinson’s diagnosis at age 29 left him depressed and battling alcoholism.
“My first three years of sobriety were like a knife fight in a closet,” he said.
Oscar award-winning director Davis Guggenheim spent a year interviewing Fox for “Still” and observing his family life with Pollan and their four children. The heart of the documentary is his love story with Pollan, whose unwavering support leaves him speechless during a conversation with the director. When asked what she means to him, he falls silent, then gives one word: “Clarity.”
The film goes inside Fox’s therapy appointments, with doctors unveiling the physical impairments Parkinson’s has taken on him. He walks in a jerky saunter, trying not to lose his balance. But the charisma and charm that made Fox a star haven’t diminished. Recovering from a stumble on a city sidewalk, he says to a passing fan, “Nice to meet you! You knocked me off my feet!”
The strength of “Still” is its vivid collage of interviews and footage that allow the actor to speak for himself. Fox approaches his disease as a personal journey to help others, refusing to retreat from life: “I’m still me people recognize, just me plus Parkinson’s,” he said.
In 1999, Fox testified before Congress advocating for more research and funding for treatment. Since launching the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000, he has helped raise $2 billion for Parkinson’s research.