Michael J. Fox Says Parkinson’s Disease ‘Sucks’ but He Has ‘a Great Life’: ‘I Have No Regrets’

“I can feel sorry for myself, but I don’t have time for that,” Fox said of living with Parkinson’s disease while speaking at a South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival screening for his documentary

Michael J. Fox is opening up about living with Parkinson’s disease.

After a screening of his documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival on Tuesday, the actor, 61, described what life has been like since he was diagnosed in 1991 and went public with his diagnosis in 1998.

Asked during a Q&A how he “mobilized” people to care about Parkinson’s, he responded: “I didn’t have a choice,” adding: “This is it. I have to give everything I have, and it’s not lip service. I show up and do the best I can.”

He continued, “Pity is a benign form of abuse. I can feel sorry for myself, but I don’t have time for that. There is stuff to be learned from this, so let’s do that and move on.”

Answering questions about the film alongside director Davis Guggenheim, Fox said that the purpose of sharing more about his story is to give back to his fans.

“My fans have basically given me my life,” he explained. “I wanted to give these people who have done so much for me my time and gratitude. It was great for me to hear from all of you.”

Speaking directly to Guggenheim, he added: “Parkinson’s sucks, but it’s a great life, so thank you for it.”

“I have no regrets,” he said of his period working after his diagnosis. “You do what you have to do, but you do not want to kill your self. And that’s when I stopped.”

According to a logline for the documentary, the film “incorporates documentary, archival and scripted elements, recounting Fox’s extraordinary story in his own words.”

While it adds that the film gives an “account of Fox’s public life, full of nostalgic thrills and cinematic gloss” alongside his “never-before-seen private journey, including the years that followed his diagnosis with Parkinson’s,” Fox shared that there is much more to the film than the details about his health.

“David said early on, ‘I want to cover Parkinson’s, but I don’t want to make a movie about Parkinson’s.’ He made a movie about life,” explained Fox. “He made a conscientious decision not to make a movie about Parkinson’s.”

In a 2021 interview with Entertainment Tonight, the Back to the Future star revealed his decision to go public with his diagnosis.

“It was seven or eight years after I had been diagnosed … [and] the paparazzi and stuff, they would stand outside my apartment and heckle at me, like, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ ” Fox recalled. “I said, ‘I can’t be making my neighbors deal with this,’ so I came out, and it was great. It was a great thing.”

“It was a great surprise to me that people responded the way they responded,” he added. “They responded with interest, in the desire to find an answer to the disease, and then I saw that as a great opportunity. I didn’t get put in this position to squander it.”

After going public with his Parkison’s, Fox founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000.

“The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today,” the foundation explains on its website.