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Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox Summary (Question and Answer)

Chapter Three

CHAPTER THREE Hollywood High

Fox’s dad shocked him when he said, ‘Well, if you want to be a lumberjack you’ve got to go to the forest’. What did he mean by this and did Fox have to ‘go to the forest’ alone?

If you are a lumberjack then you have to go where the trees are. In the same way, if you want to be an actor you have to go where the work is and that means Hollywood. Contrary to Fox’s expectation, not only was his father supportive of his plans but he also came with him and paid for the adventure.


Fox’s trip to Hollywood proved to be a success and he was made three firm offers for acting work however the choice of film was easy. What film did Fox decide to accept and on what basis did he make that decision?

Fox decided to accept a role in a Disney feature called Midnight Madness. He describes his decision as an easy one as this was the only film to start shooting after his eighteenth birthday which, for legal reasons and labour laws, made it the obvious option to take.


Moving to California shortly after his eighteenth birthday, Fox could only afford a very small studio apartment. The apartment was so small that it was impossible to use the sink to wash up his cutlery and utensils. What did he decide to use for this function?

Fox’s only option was to use the shower to wash his dishes.


Once in California, Fox was forced to adopt a new name. Why was this and how did he make his selection?

The Screen actors Guild prohibit two of their members from using the same name and as there was already a Michael Fox, he was forced to adopt a new name. He eventually chose Michael J. Fox as he disliked his own middle initial of E. and was a fan of Michael J. Pollard whose middle initial he promptly added to his own name.


Fox found himself surrounded by different people who were willing to provide him with services for a percentage of his earnings. At the time he thought of these people as allies, with hindsight he now thinks that he was at the centre of a ‘feeding frenzy’. What does Fox mean by this?

The people who surrounded him were all keen to work for him but took a very sizable cut of his earnings. By feeding frenzy, he likens these people to predators hunting a victim and he was their pray off of whom they were feeding.


Fox describes auditions as being like hell. He lists a number of considerations which any aspiring actor needs to have in mind including not looking too fat, but not too skinny. Not too young, but not too old. Above all, however, Fox offers one piece of advice. What is this?

Above all else, Fox tells any aspiring actor to never look desperate – something which he himself was finding increasingly difficult after the series he was working on, Palmerstown, was cancelled. This left him with no job and a long list of creditors demanding money.


When, in 1982, Fox was given a call-back for a show called Family ties, he was both surprised, given the length of time which had elapsed since he read for the part, and desperate. After three years working in Hollywood, Fox had little financially to show for his efforts and in fact, since Palmerstown was cancelled, His parents and family had been helping to support him for a number of months whilst he looked for another job. Such had been his luck, that even they were now recommending that he returned home and gave up on his dream of acting. In a last ditch attempt to land a job he went to the call back. What last minute piece of advice did Fox receive and why was he sceptical that this was possible?

He was told to make his character more ‘lovable’. He thought that this was going to be next to impossible as his character was a ‘know it all, tie wearing, Nixon worshipping teenager who valued money above all else’.


After Michael J. Fox’s character in Family Ties becomes an international success, Fox recalls presenting Brandon Tartikoff, one of the NBC executives responsible for hiring him in the first place, with a custom made lunch box emblazoned with his own image. Why did he do this?

Ehilst other NBC executives thought Fox was perfect for the role, Brandon had argued against hiring the actor for two main reasons. First of all he thought that Fox was too short to conceivably be the son of the two lead characters who would play his parents and secondly because Fox ‘didn’t have a face which could appear on the front of a lunch box’. Fox’s gesture amounted to telling Brandon that he was wrong. America had loved his character and Fox had helped make them both successes.


With Family Ties proving to be a massive commercial success and the low budget film Teen Wolf, in which Fox played the lead role of an adolescent werewolf, proving to be an unexpected triumph, Fox got a piece of exciting news. Steven Spielberg had started to shoot a new film but was unsure of the actor who had been cast in the lead role. Originally the director had wanted Fox to take the part and now he was insisting upon it. What was the name of this film?

The name of the film was Back to the Future.


This period of Fox’s life represented a period of unadulterated success on both television and the big screen. He had become one of the most famous actors in America and his name was a household word. How did Fox feel about his success?

Fox thought that it was all a matter of luck, and despite things continuing to go from strength to strength, he admits to harbouring secret doubts about the future.


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