‘Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie’ Editor Michael Harte Says One Scene Set The Tone For The Whole Film – Contenders TV: The Nominees

Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie heads into final Emmy Awards voting with more nominations than any other nonfiction project this year: seven in all, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, as well as recognition for director Davis Guggenheim and picture editor Michael Harte. 

The Apple TV+ documentary creates a powerful portrait of the titular star, who rose to fame in the 1980s with Family Ties and Back to the Future and at age 29 – at the height of his fame – was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  

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“I grew up adoring Michael J. Fox as an actor, and I think by the end of the project I kind of adored him as a man, as a human being,” Harte shared during an appearance at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees awards-season event. “It’s his ability to see the positive and to laugh through basically everything; his ability to find the humor — maybe that’s a better way to say it — his ability to find the humor in every situation, good or bad.” 

Early in the film, Still shows Fox going for a walk in New York City, his gait severely affected by advancing Parkinson’s. A fan salutes him, and as the actor tries to acknowledge the greeting, he stumbles and falls. With that acute comedic timing he always displayed on screen, Fox tells the fan, “You’ll really knocked me off my feet.” 

Guggenheim and Harte chose to incorporate that moment, but they sensed it was risky. How would an audience respond?  

“Davis said, ‘That line is permission for the audience to laugh. That sets the tone for the whole movie,’” Harte recalled. “But he said to me, ‘If we don’t get a laugh, we’re dead.’” 

The first big test came at the world premiere of Still at the Sundance Film Festival. 

“I sat at Sundance with Michael J. Fox behind me, and I remember waiting for that line and it hit… There was just a wave of laughter, and we were like, ‘We’re in,’” Harte said. “[Michael] is just so good at that, not only at delivering good lines, but at the right time.” 

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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