Sitting down with PEOPLE for this week’s cover story, Pollan admits that it took some time for her to warm up to Fox.
The two met in 1985 when Pollan auditioned and landed a role on Family Ties. While Pollan and Fox quickly became friends, the actress was dating actor Kevin Bacon and wasn’t immediately smitten by her costar.
“He was very cocky,” says Pollan. “He was funny, but he was cocky.”
Pollen departed Family Ties after one season, but met again on the film Bright Lights Big City two years later.
Still interested, Fox, 57, immediately asked Pollan, 58, about her relationship status during her audition.
“I said, ‘How’s your boyfriend?’ And she said, ‘We’re not together anymore,’ ” recalls Fox.
He asked her to lunch, they started dating and they married a year later.
“When you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” says Fox. “I always win.”
In 1991, Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder causing tremors, stillness and, ultimately, the loss of motor skills. Pollan stood by him as he slowly came to grips with the diagnosis, struggled with alcoholism and became a powerful activist.
- For more on Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
Together, they’ve raised a close-knit family and share son Sam, 29, twin daughters Schuyler and Aquinnah, 23, and daughter Esmé, 16.
Asked about the key to a long marriage, Pollan says, “Just give each other the benefit of the doubt. He assumes I’m doing the best I can.”
Adds Fox, “Find the best things about you and the best things about life and celebrate them.”