The actor says he was actually overmedicated in an ad critiqued by Rush Limbaugh

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 27, 2006 09:45 AM

Michael J. Fox says he wasn’t “off his medication or acting” in an ad for a Democratic political candidate, as Rush Limbaugh has charged, but was in fact overmedicated.

In a CBS Evening News interview with Katie Couric on Thursday, Fox explained that the effects of his medication are hard to predict: “I just take it and it kicks in when it kicks in. Sometimes it kicks in too hard and then you get what’s called dyskinesia, which is that rocking motion.”

When Couric said Limbaugh had suggested Fox intentionally skipped his medication to increase his symptoms and appear more sympathetic, the actor said, “The irony is that I was too medicated and was dyskinesic. Because the thing about being symptomatic is that it’s not comfortable. No one wants to be symptomatic – it’s like wanting to hit yourself with a hammer.”

There is no time that he’s not medicated, he said. “At this point now, if I didn’t take medication I wouldn’t be able to speak. I’d have a mask face. I’d lock up and I wouldn’t be able to move.”

In the ad, Fox endorses Missouri Senate challenger Claire McCaskill, who supports government funding for stem-cell research.

But Limbaugh said on his syndicated radio program Tuesday that Fox might have been exaggerating his symptoms: “This is the only time I’ve ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has. He can barely control himself.”

On Thursday, Limbaugh posted a transcript of that day’s show under the heading “Rush Apology: I Was Wrong. Fox Took Too Much Medication.” In the transcript, he says, “Okay, I need to apologize, I was wrong because I speculated either he didn’t take his medication or he was acting. I never said the word faking. But I was wrong. He did take his medications. Now he took too much medication.”

Couric told Fox that she’d called Limbaugh, who told her he believed “Democrats have a long history of using victims of various things as political spokespeople because they believe they are untouchable and infallible.”

Fox replied, “He used the word victim, and on another occasion I heard he used the word pitiable. You have to understand, nobody in this situation wants pity. I’m not a victim. I’m someone who’s in this situation along with millions of other Americans.”

Asked if it was tough to speak out in public as his symptoms become more severe with time, Fox said, “It’s not pretty when it gets bad. I’ve learned to throw vanity out the window. I’ve had enough years of people thinking I was pretty and teenage girls hanging my picture on walls. I’m over that now.”

Fox, 45, was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991 and went public with the condition in a 1998 PEOPLE cover story. In 2000, he stopped acting full-time because of the disease, devoting himself to spending time with his family (he and wife Tracy Pollan, 46, are parents to Sam, 17, twins Aquinnah and Schuyler, 11, and Esmé, 5) and working with his Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Since then, the organization has raised millions of dollars.