That was fast. Just days after it was announced that comedian Will Ferrell would star in and produce the political satire “Reagan,” the actor has dropped the project following widespread backlash over the film’s subject matter.
Ferrell, who famously parodied George W. Bush on “Saturday Night Live,” was set to play Ronald Reagan at the beginning of his second term as president, according to Variety. The outlet says that the script follows the president “when he falls into dementia and an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander-in-chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.”
The script was penned by Mike Rosolio, and was such a hot commodity on the Black List that James Brolin, John Cho and Lena Dunham participated in a live reading of the script back in March.
Immediately following the announcement of Ferrell’s involvement, some people went on Twitter to express their outrage with the casting, as well as the project itself. CNN reports that one person tweeted, “Will Ferrell to play dementia stricken Ronald Reagan. Is there no limit to the lefts stupidity? Reagan’s family should sue to stop this. Having lost my mom to Alzheimer’s I feel Will Ferrell is wrong to play Ronald Reagan striken with dementia. Nothing funny about it. Shameful.”
The outlet also mentions that an unverified account for Reagan’s son, Michael, tweeted, “What an Outrag….Alzheimers is not joke…It kills..You should be ashamed all of you.”
Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, also wrote an open letter to Ferrell, in which she said in part, “Perhaps you have managed to retain some ignorance about Alzheimer’s and other versions of dementia. Perhaps if you knew more, you would not find the subject humorous.” The Alzheimer’s Association and the GOP also publicly criticized the project.
In response, a Ferrell spokesperson says the actor was never officially attached to the project. “The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project,” the spokesperson said.
President Reagan announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, over five years after his second term ended. He died at his home in June 2004 of pneumonia. He was 93-years-old.