Michael J. Fox shares struggle with alcohol after Parkinson’s diagnosis in new doc ‘Still’


Tracy Pollan, Michael J. Fox and director Davis Guggenheim attend the 2023 Sundance Film Festival 'Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie' premiere. Photo: TNS

Michael J. Fox says he fled deeper into alcoholism when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

The first seven years after his 1991 diagnosis were spent in denial and depression, he says in the documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, which premiered on Jan 22 at the Sundance Film Festival.

Hiding became a virtual side hustle as he worked on films and television projects, popping dopamine pills as if they were Smarties candies.

The pills are used for Parkinson’s, which is characterised by a loss of dopamine that causes tremors and other uncontrollable movements and progresses slowly over time as the affected neurons die. Fox says he washed the pills down with alcohol, timing everything to keep his acting intact.

“Therapeutic value, comfort – none of these were the reason I took these pills. There was only one reason: to hide,” Fox says in the documentary, according to USA Today. “I became a virtuoso of manipulating drug intake so that I’d peak at exactly the right time and place.”

He got sober 30 years ago and then went public with his diagnosis in 1998. In 2000, he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which is dedicated to finding a cure.

The movie does not hold back, as director Davis Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, goes with him to doctor visits and keeps filming even when Fox falls down.

The documentary, which will air on Apple TV+ later this year, chronicles Fox’s advocacy, as well as his career and life in general.

His optimism in the face of a devastating brain disorder is part of what moved the audience to leap to their feet when he took the stage, Variety reported.

“When I look at the film, the thing that screams at me with how lucky I’ve been and how successful my life has been is the stuff with my family,” Fox told Variety at the premiere. “It’s such joy.” – New York Daily News/Tribune News Service

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