Michael J Fox brings viewers to tears with surprise appearance and standing ovation at the BAFTAs

A legend on and off the screen.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 19th February 2024

Retired actor turned activist Michael J Fox made a surprise appearance at the BAFTAs on Sunday night, bringing everyone in the audience to their feet and many of those watching on TV to tears as he arrived on stage to present an award.

The 62-year-old Canadian-American is best known for his iconic role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future films and as a child actor before that on the US sitcom, Family Ties, but since retiring as a result of Parkinson’s disease he has gone on to become a huge campaigner for the condition.

Being introduced by fellow performer and the host of 2024 BAFTAs David Tennant as not only a star of the 1980s but having raised over £2 billion for the neurodegenerative disorder through his charitable foundation in his name, he appeared on stage to rapturous cheers before rising from his wheelchair.

Receiving a standing ovation as he made his way to the podium to present the award for Best Film, which went to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the surprise moved countless viewers tuning in back home to tears as he delivered a short but touching speech before handing out the familiar bronze trophy.

He also delighted fans when he was pictured walking the red carpet with his wife before the presentation.

Michael J Fox was sadly diagnosed with Parkinson‘s back in 1991 when he was just 29 years old and became one of the first big names in the public eye to begin trying to raise money for the condition, not only revealing it to the world but setting up his self-titled non-profit organisation in the same year.


As it is a progressive disorder that can even cause added complications to shorten a person’s lifespan, the severity of his tremors and loss of motor control has naturally worsened over time, which ultimately caused him to retire from acting in 2021.

However, before then and many years into his diagnosis, he still made brilliant appearances in the likes of medical comedy Scrubs, starred in his own self-titled show and has made several special returning cameos alongside the legendary Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Marty from Back to the Future.


He even enjoyed one of the most wonderful roles in Curb Your Enthusiasm where he tried to make light of his condition to hilarious effect. Simply brilliant.

What a bloke.

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Most recently, Fox released his own documentary film on Apple TV entitled, STILL, which looks back at his career, what it’s like to live with Parkinson’s disease and the vital work he has done through his charitable foundation to improve treatment and help find a cure.

It was nominated for numerous different awards of its own and won the Outstanding Picture, Director and Editing Awards at the Emmys in 2023. So well deserved — you should seriously watch it.


As for his speech before handing out this year’s BAFTA for Best Film himself, he said: “No matter who you are or where you’re from, films can bring us together. There’s a reason why they say movies are magic because they can change your day. It can change your outlook. Sometimes it can even change your life.”

The moment has been watched millions of times online already, leaving “not a dry eye in the house” and social media labelling him everything from an “inspiration” and “every bit the hero I remember him to be“, to being simply dubbed an “absolute legend”. We couldn’t agree anymore.

Michael J Fox’s standing ovation at the BAFTAs also helped spark more discussion around the disease the following morning — exactly the kind of awareness he has been championing for over 30 years.

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Featured Images — BAFTA/BBC