Michael J. Fox is joining the cast of Designated Survivor when the ABC drama returns from its winter hiatus in February.
Fox is set for a five-episode arc and will play Ethan West, a high-flying and connected Washington attorney who is hired by President Tom Kirkman’s (Kiefer Sutherland) cabinet and ultimately appointed as special prosecutor to investigate former President Cornelius Moss’s alleged leak of classified information.
A hyper-competitive, wily, relentless lawyer who plays his cards close to the vest, West's only allegiance is to his mandate — a single-mindedness that makes him an unpredictable and formidable adversary for President Kirkman.
Fox has been busy on the small screen, working recently on the ninth season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and receiving three Emmy guest actor noms for CBS’ The Good Wife. He also recently appeared in guest-starring roles on Pop’s Nightcap.
Fox's character will join President Kirkman's entourage after his wife and the First Lady, Alex, (Natascha McElhone) was killed in a car accident. The last shots of the mid-season finale showed Kirkman getting a phone call and falling to his knees as he heard the news. His wife was dead.
In a post-show interview, showrunner Keith Eisner told TV Guide that Alex is definitely dead. This means the show will have a new theme — a bachelor president.
It's "terra nova dramatically, we haven't seen this in a television show," Eisner said. "A president who is essentially by himself, and the isolation of being a single parent and of having to figure out what to do professionally and personally without his partner. And that is a very interesting and exciting dramatic area for us to go into to. And we'll see how that isolation has ramifications in both the personal and political arenas. Something we're very excited about is sort of a new direction."
It was already known that McElhone would be leaving the show, but the way Alex was written off was a surprise. Back in September, McElhone joined The Fist, a new Hulu series from Beau Willimon (House of Cards) that will co-star Sean Penn.
For Designated Survivor, however, one big question remains: Was Alex killed in an accident or purposefully targeted?
"That's something I won't reveal," Eisner told TV Guide. "It certainly has the earmarks of that, but we'll wait 'til we get back before figuring out exactly what happened and why, but that's something we're going to tease a little bit."
Designated Survivor returns to ABC on Feb. 28.