A Documentary That Feels Like an ’80s Movie: Davis Guggenheim on STILL: A Michael J. Fox Movie | interview

At the beginning of the documentary, we see Michael J. Fox walking on a Manhattan sidewalk with his physical therapist who reminds him that when he gets stuck due to Parkinson’s he needs to “stop and reset.” That seems to be one of the themes of the film.

There’s a theme in the movie where Michael’s always moving. It’s in his books. It’s in how he writes. He talks about at the beginning of his life, he’s running toward something. And then when he gets Parkinson’s he’s running away from something. That’s a really powerful theme that’s not only true to his life but true to a lot of people’s lives. It feels true to my life where you’re racing and racing and racing, and you think you have to conquer the next project or the next hill. I think what Michael learned through Parkinson’s is to slow down, and to be present. And I think that’s a message that we can all learn from.

We see that when he says he was not present as a father before he became ill, and then we see him now with his family, having such a joyous time.

Oh my God. He’s a wonderful dad. I’ve seen him with his children, not just when we have cameras there, but also when we’re just hanging out. They love him so much. He exudes joy when he’s around his kids, and they feel it, and they love him. They’re a very, very tight family. Tracy’s a wonderful mother.

Like their dad, they can be very honest but in a humorous and loving way.

He talks about this. That when he’s with his family, they don’t pity him. They’re not like, “Oh, poor you, you’ve got Parkinson’s.” They take the piss out of him. He just wants to be treated like any other dad and you see that in the movie. You see a kind of ease with them and a joy with them when they’re together.

Were you a fan of his work in the ’80s?

I would call myself a casual fan. I saw “Back to the Future,” I saw “Doc Hollywood,” I saw “Casualties of War.” But I didn’t see all his movies. I was sort of a casual, “Oh, I like him.” But to be candid, I think I underestimated him. I thought, “Oh, he’s that funny guy from ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Back to the Future.’ I didn’t realize he was such a great writer. I didn’t realize he had such wisdom. I think one of the things you get from the movie is how wise he is and how perceptive.