Ryan Reynolds revealed how Michael J Fox inspired his daughter James

‘I don’t need to teach my daughter the level of compassion Mike has mastered,’ Reynolds says of Fox

Brittany Miller
New York
Friday 19 April 2024 16:12 BST
Related: Ryan Reynolds caught peeing in Wrexham documentary

Ryan Reynolds has opened up about his oldest daughter with Blake Lively, James.

The Deadpool star recently wrote an essay for Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2024 about Michael J Fox and his impact on both Reynolds himself and his now-nine-year-old daughter.

“Last year I watched Back to the Future with my eight-year-old daughter,” the actor wrote in the essay published on Wednesday 17 April. “It’s become her favourite film.”

Although Reynolds’ eldest daughter loves the movie, he’s refrained from letting her know about his relationship to the Back to the Future star. “I know how lucky I am to call Mike a friend,” he shared. “She still has no idea that I know him.”

He explained what qualities from Fox that he wants James to acquire for herself.

“I don’t need to teach my daughter the level of compassion Mike has mastered,” he wrote. “Or teach her to tell stories the way Mike tells stories. I need to teach her that it’s okay to fall a lot. It’s the absolute best way to know you’re flying.”

In addition to Fox’s inspiration for James, Reynolds explained that he also made his late father, also named James, feel “less alone” while he was dealing with Parkinson’s disease. Fox was diagnosed back in 1991.

Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by a loss of nerve cells in the brain.

It affects movement and muscle mobility, inducing tremors. People with Parkinson’s can also experience a number of other physical and psychological symptoms, including depression and insomnia.

“I met Mike 17 years ago,” Reynolds’ essay began. “I’ve watched him raise the bar for purpose and passion. It’d be kinda lazy to simply characterise him as the greatest champion of Parkinson’s research on the planet. He’s someone who helped my dad, along with millions of others, feel less alone.”

“It’d be kinda lazy to simply regard him as a movie star who shaped the lives of people all over the planet with a uniquely electric wit and self-aware charm,” Reynolds continued to praise Fox. “He’s the sum of these beautiful parts. And so many more.”

Reynolds’ daughter James was named after his father, who died in 2015 at the age of 74.

Reynolds first revealed his father had Parkinson’s back in 2014 on the Today show. At the time, his father had had the disease for 20 years, with Reynolds explaining that the diagnosis made his family grow closer together.

“It kind of galvanised everybody else, to sort of seek resources,” he said. “And for us, in a strange way, it’s really kind of brought us together.”

Since 2009, Reynolds has served on the board of Fox’s Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, an organisation Fox founded in 2000 with the aim of finding a cure for Parkinson’s.

In an interview with People for the magazine’s special 50th anniversary issue earlier this month, Fox said: “I wanted to work on Parkinson’s because I want a cure."

"I just wanted to put us in the best position to find a cure, and hopefully I did," he added when discussing his foundation.

In addition to James, Reynolds and Lively also share daughters Inez, seven, and Betty, four, and a fourth child, born in February 2023.

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