Michael Andrew Fox OC (born June 9, 1961), known professionally as Michael J. Fox, is a Canadian-American retired actor, author, film producer, and activist. Beginning his career in the 1970s, he first rose to prominence for portraying Alex P. Keaton on the NBC sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989), with Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Justine Bateman, Tina Yothers, and Brian Bonsall. He made his film debut in Midnight Madness (1980), with David Naughton, Stephen Furst, Maggie Roswell, Eddie Deezen, and Dirk Blocker; followed by Mark Lester’s Class of 1984 (1982), with Perry King, Merrie Lynn Ross, Timothy Van Patten, Lisa Langlois, Stefan Arngrim, and Roddy McDowall.
Fox achieved further recognition as protagonist Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future film trilogy (1985–1990), collectively featuring Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Claudia Wells, Jeffrey Weissman, Elisabeth Shue, Thomas F. Wilson, and Mary Steenburgen.
Other films in the 1980s include Teen Wolf (1985), with James Hampton, Scott Paulin, Susan Ursitti, Jerry Levine, Matt Adler, and Jay Tarses; Paul Schrader’s Light of Day (1987), with Gena Rowlands, Joan Jett, Michael McKean, and Jason Miller; Herbert Ross’s The Secret of My Success (1987), with Helen Slater, Richard Jordan, Margaret Whitton, and Fred Gwynne; James Bridges’s Bright Lights, Big City (1988), with Kiefer Sutherland, Phoebe Cates, Dianne Wiest and Jason Robards; and Brian De Palma’s Casualties of War (1989), with Sean Penn, Don Patrick Harvey, John C. Reilly, and John Leguizamo.
Films in the early 1990s include John Badham’s The Hard Way (1991), with James Woods, Stephen Lang, Annabella Sciorra, Luis Guzmán, LL Cool J, Delroy Lindo, Christina Ricci, Mos Def, Kathy Najimy, Michael Badalucco, Lewis Black, and Penny Marshall; Doc Hollywood (1991), with Julie Warner, Barnard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, David Ogden Stiers, Frances Sternhagen, and Bridget Fonda; Life with Mikey (1993), with Christina Vidal, Nathan Lane, Cyndi Lauper, and David Krumholtz; Barry Sonnenfeld’s For Love or Money (1993), with Gabrielle Anwar, Anthony Higgins, Bob Balaban, and Michael Tucker; Where the Rivers Flow North (1994), with Rip Torn, Tantoo Cardinal, and Treat Williams; Jonathan Lynn’s Greedy (1994), with Kirk Douglas, Nancy Travis, Phil Hartman, Ed Begley Jr., Olivia d’Abo, Colleen Camp, and Balaban; and TV movie Don’t Drink the Water (1994), with Woody Allen (who also directed), Mayim Bialik, Dom DeLuise, Julie Kavner, and Edward Herrmann.
Films in the mid 1990s include Coldblooded (1995), with Jason Priestley, Peter Riegert, Robert Loggia, Kimberly Williams, and Janeane Garofalo; Blue in the Face (1995), with Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, Giancarlo Esposito, Roseanne Barr, Lily Tomlin, Mira Sorvino, Lou Reed, Mel Gorham, Jim Jarmusch, and Malik Yoba; Rob Reiner’s The American President (1995), with Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, David Paymer, Samantha Mathis, Richard Dreyfuss, and John Mahoney; Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996), with Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Dee Wallace Stone, Jeffrey Combs, Chi McBride, Jim Frye, R. Lee Ermey, and Jake Busey; and Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (1996), with Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Pam Grier, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie, and Sylvia Sidney.
Fox returned to television on the ABC sitcom Spin City (1996-2002), where he portrayed the lead role of Mike Flaherty from 1996 to 2000. The show collectively featured Carla Gugino, Richard Kind, Alan Ruck, Michael Boatman, Connie Britton, Alexander Chaplin, Barry Bostwick, Victoria Dillard, Jennifer Esposito, Heather Locklear, Charlie Sheen, and Lana Parrilla. In 1998, he publicly disclosed that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years earlier. He subsequently became an advocate for finding a cure and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000 to help fund research.
Although the disease’s worsening symptoms forced him to have a less active career, Fox continued to make guest appearances on television, including recurring roles on the FX comedy-drama Rescue Me (2009) and the CBS legal drama The Good Wife (2010–2016) that garnered him critical acclaim. His final major role was on the NBC sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show (2013–2014). Fox retired from acting in 2020 due to his declining health.
Fox also did voice over work in the Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), with Don Ameche and Sally Field; Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996), with Ralph Waite, Field, Sinbad, Gugino, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jon Polito, Adam Goldberg, Al Michaels, Tommy Lasorda, and Bob Uecker; Stuart Little (1999), with Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, and the voices of Lane, Chazz Palminteri, Steve Zahn, Bruno Kirby, and Jennifer Tilly; Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001), with Cree Summer, James Garner, Leonard Nimoy, Don Novello, Phil Morris, Claudia Christian, Jacqueline Obradors, Jim Varney, Florence Stanley, Mahoney, Stiers, and Corey Burton; and Stuart Little 2 (2002), with much of the same cast along with the voices of Melanie Griffith and Woods.
During his career, Fox won five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Grammy Award. He was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010, along with being inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000 and the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. For his work advocating a cure for Parkinson’s disease, he received an honorary doctorate in 2010 from the Karolinska Institute.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Letters from Frank (1979) – directed by Edward Parone – TV movie
- Midnight Madness (1980) – directed by Michael Nankin & David Wechter
- Trouble in High Timber Country (1980) – directed by Vincent Sherman – TV movie
- Class of 1984 (1982) – directed by Mark Lester
- High School U.S.A. (1983) – directed by Rod Amateau – TV movie
- Poison Ivy (1985) – directed by Larry Elikann – TV movie
- Back to the Future (1985)** – directed by Robert Zemeckis
- Teen Wolf (1985) – directed by Rod Daniel
- Family Ties Vacation (1985) – directed by Will Mackenzie – TV movie
- Light of Day (1987) – directed by Paul Schrader
- The Secret to My Success (1987) – directed by Herbert Ross
- Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987) – directed by Bill Couturié – TV documentary
- Bright Lights, Big City (1988) – directed by James Bridges
- Casualties of War (1989) – directed by Brian De Palma
- Back to the Future Part II (1989)** – directed by Robert Zemeckis
- Back to the Future III (1990)** – directed by Robert Zemeckis
- The Hard Way (1991) – directed John Badham
- Doc Hollywood (1991) – directed by Michael Caton-Jones
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)* – directed by Duwayne Dunham
- Life with Mikey (1993)* – directed by James Lapine
- For Love or Money (1993) – directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
- Where the Rivers Flow North (1994) – directed by Jay Craven
- Greedy (1994) – directed by Jonathan Lynn
- Don’t Drink the Water (1994) – directed by Woody Allen – TV movie
- Coldblooded (1995) – directed by Wallace Wolodarsky – also producer
- Blue in the Face (1995) – directed by Wayne Wang & Paul Auster
- Your Studio and You (1995) – directed by Trey Parker (uncredited) – uncredited – short
- The American President (1995) – directed by Rob Reiner
- Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (1996) – directed by David R. Ellis
- The Frighteners (1996) – directed by Peter Jackson
- Mars Attacks! (1996)* – directed by Tim Burton
- Stuart Little (1999) – directed by Rob Minkoff
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) – directed by Gary Trousdale & Kirk Wise
- Interstate 60 (2002) – directed by Bob Gale – cameo
- Stuart Little 2 (2002)* – directed by Rob Minkoff
- Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild (2005) – directed by Audu Paden – straight to video
- Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (2013) – directed by Erik Sharkey – himself – documentary
- Annie (2014) – directed by Will Gluck – cameo as himself
- Being Canadian (2015) – directed by Robert Cohen – himself – documentary
- Back in Time (2015) – directed by Jason Aron – himself – documentary
- A.R.C.H.I.E. (2016) – directed by Robin Dunne
- A.R.C.H.I.E. 2 (2018) – directed by Robin Dunne
- See You Yesterday (2019) – directed by Stefon Bristol – cameo