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Michael J Fox says watching Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood partly inspired him to retire

Fox said watching the scene made him come to a ‘peaceful’ conclusion about his career

Annabel Nugent
Monday 15 May 2023 04:23 BST
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Michael J Fox explains why he kept Parkinson's secret for seven years

Michael J Fox has said that watching Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was part of the reason he chose to retire from acting.

Fox, 61, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at the age of 29. Symptoms include hand tremors, rigid muscles, impaired posture and balance, changes to speech and cognitive problems, according to the Mayo Clinic.

He revealed his diagnosis in 1998, and in 2020, the Back to the Future star announced that he was entering a “second retirement”.

In a recent interview with Empire magazine, Fox explained that his decision to step away from acting was in part inspired by Tarantino’s 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The Teen Wolf star said that watching one scene in the film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a washed-up actor and Brad Pitt as his stunt double in Sixties Los Angeles, reminded him of the struggles he was facing in real life.

Fox recalled that when filming The Good Fight, a spin-off of the hit series The Good Wife, he had trouble remembering his lines due to his illness.

“I thought of Once Upon A Time in Hollywood,” said Fox. “There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character can’t remember his lines anymore.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ (Sony)

“He goes back to his dressing room and he’s screaming at himself in the mirror. Just freaking insane.”

Fox continued: “I had this moment where I was looking in the mirror and thought, ‘I cannot remember it anymore. Well, let’s move on.’ It was peaceful.”

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In April, the actor – who founded a charity that works towards finding a cure for the disorder – said that living with Parkinson’s is “getting harder” every day.

“I mean, I’m not gonna lie, it’s getting harder. It’s getting tougher. Every day it gets tougher, but that’s the way it is,” he told Jane Pauley on CBS Mornings.

He reportedly added: “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it. I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80.”

Michael J Fox said that living with Parkinson’s is ‘getting harder’ every day (Getty Images)

Earlier this year, Fox said that he was having a “terrible year” with the disease, divulging that he had broken multiple bones due to a fall.

He did say, though, that the research funded by his charity had led to an important discovery about the disease.

Researchers discovered that the presence of alpha-synuclein, which is used to diagnose Parkinson’s, can be found by looking at people’s spinal fluid. This supposedly means the disease can be detected and treated much sooner.

“It’s all changed. It can be known and treated early on. It’s huge,” Fox said at the time. “This is the thing. This is the big reward. This is the big trophy.”

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