Why Michael J. Fox Says His Night With Princess Diana Was A 'Nightmare'

It's not every day that you get to watch "Back to the Future" beside Michael J. Fox himself, but Princess Diana was lucky enough to be seated next to the star for the film's 1985 world premiere in London. The feelings were mutual as it was a dream come true for the actor to be in the company of the beloved princess and her then-husband Prince Charles. "She was sitting next to me, and the lights go down and the movie starts, and I realized I'm one fake yawn and arm stretch away from being on a date with the Princess of Wales," he recalled to Jimmy Fallon during a November 2020 appearance on "The Tonight Show".

Unfortunately, this story doesn't end with a happily ever after for the princess and the movie star. Fox said his fantasy quickly turned south thanks to an emergency — a bathroom emergency that is. Keep scrolling to see why the night Fox watched "Back to the Future" with Princess Diana was a bit of a flop.

Michael J. Fox's bladder spoiled the evening

Instead of striking up a casual conversation with Princess Diana, Michael J. Fox found himself regretting his last beverage as he sat beside the stunning royal. "What happened was the movie started and all of a sudden I had to go pee," he explained to Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show""And so for the rest of the movie I'm sitting there, like, dying. I can't say anything to her and I can't walk away from her 'cause I can't turn my back on her. So it was just agony. What could've been the greatest night of my life was just a nightmare." 

Fox, who was on the talk show to promote his new book, "No Time Like the Future", can laugh about the event now, but at the time, he said it was genuinely difficult to hold it in until after the flick. (Talk about a relatable detail in an otherwise unrelatable story.) Luckily, the actor said Diana seemed to enjoy the movie and let out a couple of elegant giggles. Frankly, he was relieved she "wasn't booing it." Just like we imagine she was, Fox said she was very "sweet" and sitting in her presence was a very pleasant surprise.

Michael J. Fox's encounter with Princess Diana is on-brand with his approach to everything

Unsurprisingly, Michael J. Fox's retelling of his encounter with Princess Diana — using humor and a strong dose of humility, especially for an esteemed actor — feels similar to his approach to more serious and difficult topics, including his Parkinson's disease diagnosis. Fox, who received his diagnosis in 1991 at the age of 29, shared in a 2017 interview with AARP that despite the ramifications the symptoms of Parkinson's can affect his day-to-day, he still views it with a large helping of levity. "The truth is that on most days, there comes a point where I literally can't stop laughing at my own symptoms," he said during his interview.

"You deal with the condition, and you deal with people's perception of the condition," Fox later explained. "It was easy for me to tune in to the way other people were looking into my eyes and seeing their own fear reflected back. I'd assure them that 'I'm doing great' — because I was. After a while, the disconnect between the way I felt and the dread people were projecting just seemed, you know, funny."

Michael J. Fox's positive approach remains intact

Michael J. Fox has also shown the same kind of attitude and grace in situations in which he's been the subject of bias-based ridicule towards his Parkinson's diagnosis and disability. In 2006, Fox was targeted by conservative pundit and radio personality Rush Limbaugh after Fox appeared in an ad for Democrat Claire McCaskill, who was running for a Missouri Senate seat at the time. Limbaugh mocked Fox for what Limbaugh perceived to be Fox's exaggeration of his Parkinson's symptoms, stating on-air that Fox was "either off his medication or acting. He is an actor after all."

Shortly after Limbaugh made his ableist comments, the radio host was quickly forced to apologize — something he did reluctantly and inconclusively. "I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong," he said during his retraction, per The Guardian. However, he went back on the offensive days later, attempting to cite a passage in Fox's 2002 memoir "Lucky Man" in which the actor recounted missing doses of his medication before a Senate subcommittee hearing in order to demonstrably "highlight the effects of the disease." 

In response to Limbaugh's actions, Fox praised the success of his treatment for Parkinson's rather than Limbaugh's harmful personal crusade. "I'm kind of lucky right now," he stated. "It's ironic ... my pills are working really well right now."