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The Forgotten Rom-Com That Mirrors Michael J. Fox's Writing Process

If you're in the mood for a romantic comedy with a little bit of plausibility, there's an oft-forgotten rom-com that actually mirrors the real-life writing process of actor, author, and activist Michael J. Fox. Fox, of course, has been a world-famous figure since the 1980s, with his breakout roles on the television show Family Ties and in the iconic Back to the Future film trilogy. However, he has slowly stepped away from roles in front of the camera ever since he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease in 1991, per the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. His diagnosis hasn't hindered his creativity, though as he's written four books: Lucky Man, Always Looking Up, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, and No Time Like the Future.

Always helping Fox in his endeavors is Nelle Fortenberry, who has been his assistant as he worked on films, advocacy projects, and books for more than 25 years. Speaking to The New York Times, Fox said, "The way I work is, I write notes no one can read and then I dictate them to Nelle." He described Fortenberry's system of covering a wall with index cards noting the themes Fox wants to cover in a book, and under each theme they put color-coded index cards listing related stories. The 2003 film Alex & Emma, stars Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson as a writer and his typist, respectively, which is the same process Fox has used to write his memoirs.

Alex & Emma shows a writing process that's similar to Michael J. Fox's

However, Michael J. Fox's long-time assistant is quick to note that her role is strictly that of a typist. Nelle Fortenberry told The New York Times, "Michael's handwriting has never been good. So he talks and I type. I am not his ghostwriter or a co-writer. He is the writer of this book." So, it's Fortenberry's role as typist to Fox's authorship that's similar to the story in Alex & Emma.

Directed by Rob Reiner, per IMDb, the movie follows the plight of novelist Alex Sheldon (Luke Wilson) as he rushes to finish his latest novel in 30 days to pay a substantial debt to the Mafia, or lose his life. To help expedite the process, Alex hires stenographer Emma Dinsmore (Kate Hudson), and he proceeds to dictate his novel to her as she types away. However, we start to see different scenes from Alex's novel play out with him playing the lovelorn lead character and Emma playing a series of nannies. As the novel's lead character starts to fall for Emma's fictional nanny, Alex starts to fall for the typist he hired. As far as we know, for the record, Fox has never owed the mafia a large sum of money, nor fallen in love with his typist.