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Top 10 Michael J. Fox Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton
You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie in the '80s that didn’t star Michael J. Fox: he was the "it" boy of the decade, thanks to successful performances as smart-alecky teens in, well, lots of things. Movies like "Back to the Future" and "Teen Wolf," plus his breakout role on the TV sitcom "Family Ties" may have made the world fall in love with this Canadian actor, but Fox grew as an actor and gave us great performances in more mature projects like "Casualties of War," "The Hard Way" and "Rescue Me." In this video, counts down our Top 10 Favorite Michael J. Fox Performances.

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Some of his most beloved movies have involved time travel, werewolves, talking animals and ghosts. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Michael J. Fox’s top 10 performances.

#10 – Danny McTeague, Jr.: “Greedy” (1994)

Kicking off our list is a role that allows Fox to flaunt his comedy chops beside a stellar ensemble cast. The McTeague family doesn’t want rich Uncle Joe to leave his money to his sexy new nurse, so they find his favorite nephew hoping he’ll show Joe the importance of family. This ridiculous farce gives Fox the chance to display his best bowling moves and Jimmy Durante impression.

#9 – Brantley Foster/Carlton Whitfield: “The Secret of My Success” (1987)

Who doesn’t love dual identity mix-ups? Small-town boy Brantley Foster moves to New York to make his millions, but nothing goes according to plan. Like, we mean nothing. Like, he has an affair with his aunt. The movie’s writing is a little stale, but Fox perks up the tired premise with his special brand of charm. Where would ‘80s’ movies be without Michael J. Fox?

#8 – Dwight: “Rescue Me” (2009)

Fox’s five-episode arc on “Rescue Me” refreshed the series, and reminded audiences that MJF is a helluvan actor. He plays a belligerent drug addict, which isn’t exactly a part he’s used to playing. But here’s the kicker: he’s also paralyzed – no mean feat for a guy with Parkinson’s. Not only did Fox win a guest acting Emmy for his impressive performance, he also showed off his signature comedic skills.

#7 – Dr. Benjamin Stone: “Doc Hollywood” (1991)

Fox’s boyish appeal grows up a little here: he plays a doctor who’s only in it for the money, but gets sidetracked on his way to easy street. Aside from great supporting characters, there’s obviously a love story and a whole lotta on-screen chemistry between Fox and his co-star. We’re pretty impressed to see him making life-or-death choices too, while not forgetting to keep us laughing.

#6 – Nick Lang/Ray Casanov: “The Hard Way” (1991)

Pampered movie star Nick Lang is a caricature of the Michael J. Fox we know and love: desperate to grow as an actor, beloved by America and hyperactive almost to a fault. This unique buddy-cop comedy would not be the same without the electricity between him and James Woods. Woods may get the best lines, but who doesn’t want to see Fox act like a woman?

#5 – Private Max Eriksson: “Casualties of War” (1989)

This Brian De Palma film proves that Michael J. Fox is more than a one-trick pony. In this real-life story, he stars alongside a terrifying Sean Penn as a Private in the Vietnam War. While the film didn’t do spectacularly well at the box office, Fox’s performance reveals a new maturity in his acting that is very different from the smart-aleck youngsters he normally plays.

#4 – Mike Flaherty: “Spin City” (1996-2001)

Michael J. Fox’s first success was on a sitcom, and he finally returned to the medium with “Spin City.” The show was inspired by Fox’s role in the film “The American President,” and his work won him three Golden Globes and one Emmy. Unfortunately, Fox was forced to retire from the show due to his worsening Parkinson’s disease, but at least he left us with something memorable.

#3 – Scott Howard: “Teen Wolf” (1985)

So it’s the epitome of cheesy ‘80s movies – that’s why we love Michael J. Fox! He plays a high school student who discovers he’s a werewolf, and as a werewolf he’s a great basketball player. This movie is all about heart and charm, which Fox provides in spades. He’s not a very convincing monster, but he is the kind of guy you just want to be friends with.

#2 – Alex P. Keaton: “Family Ties” (1982-1989)

This is Fox’s breakout role: young Republican Alex. P Keaton won him three Emmys, and introduced him to the world. Somehow, Fox managed to tape “Family Ties” during the days of early 1985, and record his huge film “Back to the Future” at night. Fox uses the show’s great writing and his own natural likeability to make us love him, in spite of his money-money-money attitude.

#1 – Marty McFly, etc: “Back to the Future” trilogy (1985-1990)

Coming in at number one is the trilogy that cemented Michael J. Fox as a household name. And without him, this beloved franchise never would have worked: not only does Fox play Marty, he also plays his son, daughter, older self and a distant Irish ancestor. This trilogy is Michael J. Fox’s most memorable on-screen work, and one of the greatest motion picture series of all time.

Whether he’s full of hair, scheming or traveling through time, Michael J. Fox sure is entertaining. We’ve definitely missed a few of his best film roles: tell us which ones you would have added.

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