Michael J. Fox Thought of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood When He Retired

A scene from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in which a past-his-prime actor struggles to remember his lines made a deep impact on Michael J. Fox, who revealed that he thought of that moment when he made his decision to retire from acting in 2020.

Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, a once-successful screen star coming to terms with the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Speaking to Empire Magazine in a candid new interview, 61-year-old Fox opened up about his decades-long struggle with Parkinson’s disease and how he, like Rick Dalton, had difficulty remembering his lines while on set for The Good Fight. His fading memory ultimately led him to walk away from the profession for the second (and final) time.

“I thought of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Fox said. “There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character can’t remember his lines anymore. He goes back to his dressing room and he’s screaming at himself in the mirror. Just freaking insane. I had this moment where I was looking in the mirror and thought, ‘I cannot remember it anymore.’”

Unlike DiCaprio’s character, however, Fox was strong enough to accept his unideal circumstance and embrace the next chapter of his life. “[I was like] ‘Well, let’s move on,’” he explained. “It was peaceful.”

Fox was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 when he was 29 years old. He kept it hidden from the public until 1998, and in 2000 he created the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which raises funds to research new therapies and potential treatments. By the time he entered his second retirement in 2021, he had been acting with the disease for nearly 30 years.

Last month, Fox mused on his own mortality during an interview for CBS Sunday Morning. “I’m not gonna lie, it’s getting hard, it’s getting harder,” he said. “It’s getting tougher. Every day it’s tougher… I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it … I’m not gonna be 80.” A new film about Fox, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, premieres today on Apple TV+.

You can learn more about Parkinson’s and efforts to research treatments via the Michael J. Fox Foundation, where donations can be made as well.

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