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Michael J. Fox is opening up about the standing ovation he received at the 2024 BAFTA Awards in February and why he feels people are so moved and invested in what he represents.

The actor, activist and philanthropist sat down with ET’s Rachel Smith ahead of this year’s A Country Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s — a musical charity gala benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation — held on Tuesday at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Nashville.

“It’s still really surprising,” Fox said of the huge outpouring of love and support he was met with when he made a surprise appearance at the ceremony, held at the Royal Festival Hall in London, where he presented the final award of the night for Best Film. 

“I love it and I appreciate it, but I take it more as recognition of determination and resolve to solve the big problem, and that we all have the power to do whatever it is we can do to move things along,” Fox, 62, said of the standing ovation. “I think people are just saying, ‘Thanks for hanging in there and going after this.’ And I appreciate that.”

Fox explained that he feels he serves as a beacon and symbol for optimism — something expressed through his tireless efforts to combat Parkinson’s disease.

“That’s what people were responding to at the BAFTAS,” Fox shared. “The issue is that people really want to believe that we can do things, and I think they see me as somebody who’s doing that.”

During the star-studded BAFTAs ceremony earlier this year, Fox was introduced by Doctor Who alum David Tennant and was escorted to the stage in a wheelchair. He received a standing ovation from the audience as he came out and presented the category while standing at the podium.

Fox attended the ceremony with his wife of 35 years, Tracy Pollan, who was by his side on Tuesday at the A Country Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson’s gala as well, which featured performances and appearances by Sheryl Crow, Little Big Town and Jason Isbell.

“The support here is fantastic, and it’s nice to mix things up and go country,” Fox said of the event. “It’s nice to be in Nashville.”

Michael J. Fox and wife Tracy Pollan at the A Country Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on April 02, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee. – Jason Davis/Getty Images

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at age 29, and he explained to ET that he doesn’t really look at his health the way others do — with regards to good days and bad days or as a struggle.

“After 35 years or something since I’ve been diagnosed, this is just my life and I don’t think about it much,” he said of his disease. “I don’t even think about [it]. Except that I’m thinking about what we’re going to do as a community to figure this out and find a cure — and short of a cure, [create] treatment centers that are really groundbreaking.”

“Me personally, it’s just who I am, and the way I was built,” he added. “And I’m necessarily trying to figure it out for me, I’m figuring it out for everybody. But it just is what it is.”

“My life has been a great ride and it continues to be a great ride,” Fox added. “And through all the challenges, it comes with all the good stuff.”

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