FOX’S BREATHING LESSONS: Nearly 200 Hearst-ers took an hour Wednesday afternoon to catch Michael J. Fox’s chat with Good Housekeeping’s Rosemary Ellis at the Hearst Tower.
The actor, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1990, spoke candidly about his career and his personal crusade against Parkinson’s disease. The 52-year-old father of four said his motivation is always internal. “I’ve realized it doesn’t matter what it looks like but it matters how I feel it. If I looked at myself, I would think, ‘It doesn’t look like you can do it,’” he said. “We’re always thinking, I’ve got it under control, or If I could control things. We don’t control anything. When you realize that, it frees you up to take chances and to take risks.”
Fox told Ellis not finishing school was his biggest regret. But he appeared to have no second thoughts about being on the cover of Good Housekeeping. “I have to be the only person on Good Housekeeping and Rolling Stone in the same month,” he said.
The teetotaling actor also spoke of how a substance-abusing friend once asked how he managed to stop drinking. Fox said, “I told him to f–k it and breathe,’’ adding that his friend gave him a sign that says just that, which hangs above his treadmill in his office.”
“You’re all getting a T-shirt with that on it before you leave,” Ellis told the crowd.
During the audience Q&As, Fox fielded a few curveball questions. Asked by an audience member if he ever resents having to be the public face for a very personal crusade, Fox said he worries about the misinformation his children might be exposed to at school. “You think adults are misinformed. Kids by no fault of their own are uninformed,” he said. “My source of concern is with my kids. They didn’t ask for their dad to be faced with Parkinson’s. A parent is embarrassing enough as it is.”
However, the actor knew that taking a public stance was not a part-time deal. “Once I told Barbara Walters [in 1998], it was all over. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle after that,” he said.
After offering some work-hard-hone-your-craft advice for any aspiring actors in the crowd, Fox threw in, “If you just want to get rich, go rob a bank.”
Another attendee wanted to know about family feasts hosted by his food-writer brother-in-law, Michael Pollan. Fox was quick to note his mother-in-law, Corky Pollan, can hold her own in the kitchen as can his wife, Tracy Pollan, and her sisters. As for meals at Michael Pollan’s, Fox mentioned, “The apples are spotty but they taste good…It’s always this-time-we-did-the-potatoes-this way. And I’m just trying to get the football game on TV for a little while. No, Michael is a great guy. He helped with my first book. He taught me how to write,” Fox said. [Throwing his voice for effect] “Don’t say ‘was’ — it’s passive.”