Will Ferrell has backed out of plans to star in a feature comedy that depicts Ronald Reagan’s dementia.
The comedian was in talks to play the former president in a political satire that dealt with Reagan’s Alzheimer’s condition. Mike Rosolio’s script, which was on the 2015 Black List, follows an ambitious intern tasked with convincing the Commander-In-Chief that he is an actor playing the President in a movie.
Following reports that Ferrell was involved in the project, Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis penned an open letter to Ferrell saying: “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. I watched as fear invaded my father’s eyes – this man who was never afraid of anything. I heard his voice tremble as he stood in the living room and said, ‘I don’t know where I am.'”
On Friday, the Alzheimer’s Association criticized the project, stating: “Would filmmakers consider using a fatal form of cancer or another deadly disease for comedy? It’s time to stop this forever.” And the Republican party weighed in on the controversy: “Hollywood Liberals have no shame. There is nothing funny about Alzheimer’s. We stand with the Reagan family.”
Ferrell’s spokesperson has now said that he was never officially attached: “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 ‘Alzheimers comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.” Ferrell was also set to produce the film.