Michael J. Fox Explains Why Getting Famous Was “Tougher” In The ’80s


Today, he is a household name, part of the formative years for millions enjoying film or television 40 years ago. But Michael J. Fox says he had quite the uphill battle to secure fame in the ’80s. Compared to today, he believes things are easier for rising stars – and he attributes that to one key development.

Fox found his place in Hollywood playing Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties and became a pop culture icon as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. In 1991, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Fox redirected his energy to advocate for Parkinson’s research and created the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2000. He split his time between taking acting jobs when able but focused increasingly on advocacy.


Michael J. Fox explains how much “tougher” achieving fame was in the ’80s

Michael J. Fox believes actors had to be tougher to achieve fame in the ’80s / Everett Collection

Sitting down for an interview with PEOPLE, Fox reflected on his magazine covers and career progression. Reflecting on a 2022 honorary Academy Award he won, Fox recalled being dubbed by someone as “’80s Famous.”


RELATED: Michael J. Fox Reports That ‘Good Things Are Happening’ After Challenging Year Amid Parkinson’s Battle

“I thought, wow, that’s cool. ‘80s famous. Right, we were different,” he mused. “We were tougher,” he added, and that was because of one huge tool nobody in the ’80s had at their disposal when they were looking to establish themselves to the world.

“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.” Asked if it was harder being famous in the ’80s, Fox replied, “Well, you had to be talented. That helped.”

The very climb to career stability was a full-time job by itself

The actor would focus on advocacy as the years went on / © Apple TV+ / Courtesy Everett Collection

Fox launched into his career in 1978 and before he gained momentum, he had a one-off appearance in The Magic Lie. But according to Fox, it was already tougher just to establish even a small foothold in the industry back in the ’80s.

Fox believes social media allows many to be fame overnight / Kazuki Hirata /

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,” Fox shared further. “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 is effectively retired from acting now / Galaxy/ STAR MAX Copyright 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

RELATED: Michael J. Fox Shares What Could Get Him To Act Again

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