‘You had to be talented’: Michael J. Fox says it was harder to be ‘famous’ in the 1980s than it is now

Michael J. Fox, known for his legendary role in the “Back to the Future” franchise, didn’t have the kindest words for today’s so-called “famous” personalities. He not only suggested that the nature of fame had changed, but that it has changed for the worse.

The Hollywood Reporter sat down with the actor to ask him his thoughts about the way acting and fame have changed since the 1980s.

“There’s an expression I referred to when they gave me an honorary Academy Award — somebody said to me the day before, they were talking about getting this award and being famous and they said ‘You’re ‘80s famous,’” Fox recalled. “I thought, wow, that’s cool. ‘80s famous. Right, we were different.”

Fox starred in several 1980s flicks, including “Palmerstown U.S.A.,” “Night Court,” “Family Ties,” and, of course, the “Back to the Future” franchise.

He went on to say that actors were “tougher” in the 1980s, adding that “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.”

When asked if he believed it was more difficult to be famous back then than it is now, he said: “Well, you had to be talented [back then]. That helped.”

“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 said.

“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 appeared to be referring to Instagram culture, where people go viral for reasons beyond talent or ability.

Fox was forced to step back from onscreen work in 2020 after opening up about his struggles with his memory and recalling lines of dialogue due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease.

However, the actor said he wouldn’t be opposed to making a comeback on the big screen if “something came up that I could put my realities into it — my challenges — if I could figure it out.”

Deadline reported Fox said his “goals are always shifting. My biggest goal, I think, was to raise a family. We have four amazing kids, and that’s been the big thing,” said Fox, who has been married to Tracy Pollan since 1988. “And then the other is with the work we’ve done with the foundation and wanting to achieve those goals.”

Despite his shifting goals, it remains to be seen if Fox will appear on the big screen again.

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