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19th Feb 2024

‘True legend of cinema’ – Michael J. Fox receives standing ovation at the BAFTAs

Jody Coffey

Michael J. Fox

“He was the film star of the 1980s”

Last night, Hollywood actor and Parkinson’s activist, Michael J. Fox, 62, received a standing ovation.

Fox made a surprise appearance at the BAFTA Film Awards in London.

The Canadian-American actor was introduced on stage by host and Scottish actor, David Tennant, who described him as a ‘true legend of cinema’ and praised him for raising over €2 billion toward research for Parkinson’s disease through his foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

“To present it, we have a true legend of cinema. He was the film star of the 1980s,” Tennant began.

“His charitable foundations have raised over two billion dollars; He was Marty McFly in Back To The Future: Michael J. Fox.”

The Back To The Future star, who is living with Parkinson’s disease, arrived on stage to a standing ovation from the audience.

Michael J. Fox and his wife, Tracy Pollan, at the 2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards. Credit: Getty

The actor entered the stage in his wheelchair but he stood at the podium to present the Best Film award, which went to Oppenheimer director, Christopher Nolan.

Fox, who played Marty McFly in the Back To The Future series, was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991, at the age of 29.

During his speech, the actor said he believes films are ‘magic’ and can ‘change your life’.

@bbc Michael J. Fox gets a standing ovation for presenting the award for Best Film 👏 ❤️ #BAFTA #iPlayer ♬ original sound – BBC

“Five films were nominated in this category tonight and all five have something in common. They are the best of what we do.

“No matter who you are or where you’re from, these films can bring us together. There’s a reason why they say movies are magic because movies can change your day.

“It can change your outlook. It can sometimes even change your life.”

The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research was founded in 2000 and has raised global awareness about the condition alongside more than €2 billion to enable in depth research.

Parkinson’s is a progressive brain disorder that can deteriorate a person’s movement and speech, but it has no known cure. 

Fox was honoured for his activism at the 2022 Governors Awards where he was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an honorary Oscar recognising outstanding philanthropic efforts.