Michael J. Fox picks his roles very carefully these days.
While chatting to Mike Birbiglia for his “Working It Out” podcast, the Canadian actor, 60, admitted he can no longer memorize lots of dialogue amid his battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Fox, who went public with his diagnosis in 1998, shared: “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. I can’t remember five pages of dialogue. I can’t do it. It can’t be done. So I go to the beach.”
Fox, who is attempting to find a cure for the disease with his Michael J. Fox Foundation, shared how he started to struggle while filming two 2020 episodes for “The Good Fight”.
“When I did the spinoff from ‘The Good Wife’, which is ‘The Good Fight’, I couldn’t remember the lines,” he recalled. “I just had this blank, I couldn’t remember the lines. And it was strange because on ‘Family Ties’, [producers] used to give me the script and I’d go, ‘I’m in. Mallory, get off the phone.’ And I knew it, like, in an instant. And it continued to be that way for me.
“I have 70 pages of dialogue on a De Palma movie. And knowing that a hugely expensive Steadicam shot depends on me knowing the lines. Not a trickle of sweat on my brow. It used to be like that.
“I get to this point, I’m on a soundstage in Culver City, and I can’t get this line together,” he continued. “It was this legal stuff and I just couldn’t get it. But what’s 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 memorizing lines, and I can’t do it.’ And I had done Kiefer’s show in Canada, [‘Designated Survivor’]. I had the same problem.”
He told Birbiglia about realizing he had to limit his dialogue while watching a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood”.
Fox, who announced he was retiring from acting for a second time in 2020 due to declining health, explained, “What’s cool about it was, [Leonardo DiCaprio] was doing a scene of a western show and he couldn’t remember his lines.
“He went back in the dressing room, he was screaming at himself, he was tearing into himself in the mirror, and drinking. Just a mess. 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?”