Back To The Future 25th Anniversay/ Michael J. Fox Interview

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Michael J. Fox Looks Back on “The Future”
By Max Evry

October 27, 2010

“Back to the Future” is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and on October 25th 2010, exactly 25-years after the day Marty McFly first traveled back in time in the first film, the cast and crew united in New York City for a special event to commemorate this occasion and the new Blu-ray edition of the “Back to the Future” trilogy in stores right now.

For the special press conference, series creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, as well as stars Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Lea Thompson, and Huey Lewis discussed what makes the sci-fi comedy trilogy so special and relevant to this day. But one cast member stands above the others and that is its lead, Michael J. Fox.

After winning over television audiences as the Young Republican with hippie parents on “Family Ties”, it was his role as Marty McFly that catapulted him to superstardom. After the three films, he had several lead roles in films like “The American President” and “The Frighteners”, and another hit show in “Spin City”. Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he has become a champion of finding scientific advancements for treatment through The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

We were there when Fox talked about his work with the foundation, and the impact “Future” has had on his life.

What is your fondest memory of making the trilogy?

FOX: I have so many memories, and a lot of mental blocks, whole weeks I can’t remember shooting. (laughs) But I remember when I found out they wanted me to do it. They’d already been shooting for awhile and I knew the movie was being made but I didn’t know anything about it. I went into “Family Ties” producer Gary Goldberg’s office, he told me there was this film, Bob and Bob had asked about my availability earlier and I was doing the show and couldn’t do it. Gary hadn’t even told me about it because he didn’t want me to be disappointed. He said there had been a change and he could maybe make me available. He handed me a manila envelope, said, “The script’s in here, take it home and read it, tell me if you wanna do it” I took it, held it to my head, said, “I love it, it’s the best script I’ve ever read.” (laughs). I was out in a parking lot in Pamona 8 days later with flames running through my feet.

What is your favorite souvenir you kept from the movie?

FOX: I don’t know what I have, I might have some stuff. I wish I had that frickin’ guitar. I was so stupid not to buy that, and the little yellow Chiquita too, the one when the amp blows Marty back. I wish I had that. I’ve got some shoes, I have a pair of Nikes that I wore, maybe some other stuff. I’m still tired from the movie, does that count as a souvenir? (laughs)

How have things changed for you since the last movie, and what do you think Marty would be doing right now?

FOX: Like he said, “It’s the kids, Marty!” (laughs) I have four kids, though, one is in college, the youngest is nine, she’ll be president someday, and two teenage daughters. I work with the foundation and stuff. Marty would probably be doing the same thing, all these scenarios were played out. Struggling with his kids, although I’m not struggling with my kids they are a handful.

If you could travel through time like Marty in the film, would you go into the future to see the progress of Parkinsons research? Also, what are your thoughts on the Obama administrations actions regarding this issue?

FOX: I don’t know if you’d want to go back and find out how this all started, or go ahead to find out how it’s going to turn out. The timeline is what we’re messing with in our research, trying to find ways to speed up that timeline and quicken that translation between the basic science that’s been done and the outcome with patients. In a way, we’re not only involved in time travel we’re trying to move from present-reality to future-present-reality, where it’s better for patients. In terms of the Obama administration, they’ve lived up to their word and lifted restrictions on stem cells. Then there was a legal action by this judge, and that’s been a little struggle. There are steps forward and steps back, hopefully the rights of patients will be honored and research will be explored.

The film obviously changed you professionally, but how did it change you personally?

FOX: How did it change my life? It made me really famous. (laughs) It was weird, ‘cause I was actually in England doing “Family Ties Goes to London”, a TV movie, when the movie opened. SO I was getting all these calls from the states saying, “You have no idea how big this thing is.” I didn’t. I was in Amesbury and they didn’t care. They didn’t know who I was. It opened up so many possibilities and opportunities, and I’ll be forever grateful for it. It’s an amazing experience. Even now it just flat-out makes people happy, people talk about it and their eyes light up, they talk about how many times they’ve seen it, and they’ve seen it with their kids now. To have been a part of that was a tremendous privilege. I’ve been to Africa, Asia, Europe, I’ve been in Buton and people know it there. I’ve been to Thailand people know the movie there, I went to Belfast last week and they were talking about it.

You made a time travel trilogy that has become timeless, which is in itself a paradox. What is the most beautiful paradox you can think of?

FOX: In terms of paradox, it’s what you said, the fact that this movie about time would be timeless, and a movie about generations has touched so many generations. It will have an audience beyond its 25th year. It will continue to metamorphose and touch people, especially those born in the last 50 years because it goes back to the 50s. It’s been a tremendous privilege and it has made so many good things happen to me. The fact that I have an audience and a forum for the work I do now with the Foundation was made possible by this movie, and the reach it gave me to different parts of society in the world.


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