In preparation for his much-anticipated return to TV on Sept. 26, EW talked to Michael J. Fox – star of his eponymous new comedy about a local newscaster with Parkinson’s who returns to work – about why he accepted a series regular role.
Why did you decide to take on a series regular role?
Coming off of The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I just thought, why am I not doing this? It’s what I do and recent experience tells me I can do it. I thought about a drama, I thought about being that guy on Law & Order who shows up and gives Sam Waterston sh– at the beginning of the second act. But I don’t want to be that guy, be once a week. I realized I could take on more.
Why a family comedy? Is this based on your family?
The dynamic of my family is very interesting, almost more in the way that I deal with things, they way they have dealt with things. The way we deal with issues and realizing that some things just aren’t a big deal and don’t have to be a big deal. What’s important is that we are there for each other and listen to each other. The thing about (his wife) Tracy, people say she’s a rock. She’s great, she’s my friend, but she wouldn’t describe herself as a rock. It’s just life.
Why did you decide to make your character a local newsman?
Will Gluck came up with that, which is really stroke of brilliance because it’s a specific kind of thing. Local fame. Newscasters have loyal followers and people relate to them on a different level.
Your Parkinson’s is a source of comedy in the pilot. Will we see those jokes in every episode?
It’s in the first couple of episodes but we taper off as we go along, but it’s what the character lives with, based on stuff from stories I told the writers. When I can’t get a jar open, I pass it to my kid. It can potentially take three minutes to get a spoon of eggs from here to there. There is no particular meaning to that, it’s just fact. And when you deal with that fact, it’s funny. Sometimes, people wrap things up in gauze, we are so careful. Some things are just what they are. Depending on the context, they can be funny or they can be tragic. The context here is this family loves and supports each other, and nothing is sacred.
You are a beloved actor. I found myself feeling bad that I was laughing at a joke that related to your Parkinson’s.
I think it’s safe to say you were laughing with me. That’s the secondary reaction. The first thing you did was laugh. The laughter is a more honest and instinctive reaction. My late great friend Gary David Goldberg used to say, you can’t take back a laugh. It’s the most beautiful reaction in the world.
How would you describe your acting now?
My wife thinks I’m a better actor now because I don’t worry about stuff as much as I used to. I don’t have as many options so I don’t fret as much. I just go with my instinct and I tend to be more centered. I don’t know how to explain it. I rely less on tricks and just being there in the moment.
Lastly, does your show mean we won’t see you back on The Good Wife?
NBC said they would let me do it. It’s up to the Kings to create the opening. I love that show. I love those writers. Louis is the gift who keeps giving! What’s so fun about that character is that I don’t have to apply any snarl, any craft. He’s just doing what he thinks is clear to him.