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Michael J. Fox Says It Was “Tougher” to Achieve Fame in the ’80s: “You Had to Be Talented”

Michael J. Fox has reflected on what it was like to be “’80s Famous,” and feels that he had to be “tougher” to achieve that level of fame.

In an interview with People, Fox surveyed his various magazine covers over the years and discussed his career journey. When bringing up the honorary Academy Award he received in 2022, he mentions that someone had called him “’80s Famous.” “I thought, wow, that’s cool. ‘80s famous. Right, we were different,” Fox said.

“We were tougher. We didn’t have social media, we didn’t have any of that crap. We were just famous. Left to our own resources. And it was an amazing time.” Fox was asked if being famous back then was harder than now, he replied, “Well, you had to be talented. That helped.”

He continued, saying “We used to bust our ass, our acting muscles and watch other actors and sit around with other actors and talk about acting and talk about it. And now you’ve got people who just go like, ‘who’s your sweater? What’s your sweater you’re wearing? And what’s that dance step?’ And you’re the most famous person in the world.”

Fox certainly knows a thing or two about toughness, discussing his Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis in 1991 and his ensuing activism during the interview. He also discussed leaving the sitcom Family Ties as he completed Back to the Future Part II: “It was a really tumultuous time… people don’t often mention it, but I did the show and the movie at the same time… again. Only now, I was married and with a wife who was pregnant. Shortly after making that film, my father passed away. And then shortly after, that I had the [Parkinson’s] diagnosis.”

Fox also discusses how Family Ties fans would send him heartwarming messages, the end of the Back to the Future era, disclosing his diagnosis to People in 1998, and, most recently, giving an update on his quality of life back in 2022. Though Fox, 62, appears in bright spirits throughout the interview, he provided an update to CBS Sunday Morning last year and said that his struggles with the disease are still mounting: “I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it … I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80,” Fox said.