Last month, just days after it was announced that comedian Will Ferrell would star in and produce the political satire “Reagan,” the actor dropped the project following widespread backlash over the film’s subject matter. But Ferrell wasn’t the only one to leave the project – Adam McKay, director of last year’s “The Big Short,” dropped “Reagan” as well. Now, he is speaking out about the film and his decision to leave it.
“We were all taken aback,” McKay said per The Hollywood Reporter. “It was weird. It seemed like everyone piled on it without knowing at all what the script was about. The reason we even looked at the script is because it’s actually really thoughtful and it had some sensitivity to the subject.” McKay was looking to produce the film with Ferrell.
Ferrell, who famously parodied George W. Bush on “Saturday Night Live,” was set to play Reagan at the beginning of his second term, 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.
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.
McKay agrees with this assessment, saying, “It was honestly not even a project we had set up; it didn’t even have a director. It’s just something we were looking at. Then all of a sudden it just steamrolled. You know, the press is a beast.”