"I just thought: Why can't I? There's no reason not to do it," Fox told reporters Saturday at NBC's Television Critics Association fall TV previews.
Fox famously left Spin City in 2000 shortly after revealing to the public that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. After several years of semi-retirement, the Emmy-winning actor has kept busy with recurring roles on The Good Wife, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Rescue Me, for which he won an Emmy in 2009. Fox says that it was these work experiences that helped convince him that he could handle returning to TV for a full 22-episode season. "It really brought me to a place of, 'This is what I do,'" Fox said. "This is what I was built and programmed to do, so I want to do it."
Several episodes into shooting the freshman season of The Michael J. Fox Show, which Fox also executive-produces, and so far so good. "I'm rebuilding the muscles and getting more comfortable with this schedule every day and every week," Fox said. "I'm really happy with how it feels."
On the NBC sitcom, which premieres on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c, Fox also plays a beloved TV personality returning to work after having taken several years off to be with his family and deal with his Parkinson's. Fox said he had no qualms about including his own condition in the show. "This is a reflection of my experience," he said. "The way I look at life, the way I look at the reality of Parkinson's [is], sometimes it's frustrating; sometimes it's funny. I need to look at it that way. ... We all get our own bag of hammers."
Although it might seem like a sensitive topic to tackle in a half-hour comedy, which makes light of Fox's condition several times in the pilot, Fox says he has simply relied on "creative instinct" when it comes to discussing, and sometimes making fun of, Parkinson's. "I'm just going to do this like I would do this and let it be what it is," Fox said. "If somebody is outraged, they can be outraged. I don't think it's outrageous."
Added executive producer Will Gluck: "We're startlingly uncalculated about this show."
Although the show is about a man dealing with Parkinson's, the cast and crew insisted that his condition isn't the center focus of the series. "It's always going to be there. But it's not going to be the spotlight," Gluck said. "We're honoring Mike Fox, the family stuff he's going through with his family and his kids, it's wildly funnier than what other families are dealing with. .... It has nothing to do with Parkinson's."
The Michael J. Fox Show premieres on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 9/8c on NBC.