Will Ferrell has backed out of reported plans to produce and star in a movie about President Reagan that has riled some people.
“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,” a spokesperson for Ferrell told The New York Post’s Page Six.
According to Variety, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member was set to star as President Ronald Reagan in the planned film “Reagan.” The publication reported that “the story begins at the start of the ex-president’s second term 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.”
But the comedy project did not going over well with some who take exception to such a portrayal of Reagan, who had Alzheimer’s disease in his later years.
On Thursday, Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis posted an open letter to Ferrell on her website, 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.
“Alzheimer’s doesn’t care if you are President of the United States or a dockworker,” Davis wrote. “It steals what is most precious to a human being — memories, connections, the familiar landmarks of a lifetime that we all come to rely on to hold our place secure in this world and keep us linked to those we have come to know and love.”
Davis also wrote of the pain of watching the father she knew slip away.
“I watched as fear invaded my father’s eyes — this man who was never afraid of anything,” she said. “I heard his voice tremble as he stood in the living room and said, ‘I don’t know where I am.’ I watched helplessly as he reached for memories, for words, that were suddenly out of reach and moving farther away. For ten long years he drifted — past the memories that marked his life, past all that was familiar … and mercifully, finally past the fear.”
A tweet from an unverified Twitter account listed as belonging to Reagan’s son Michael said, “What an Outrag….Alzheimers is not joke…It kills..You should be ashamed all of you.”
In addition to playing Bush in “SNL” skits, Ferrell appeared as the 43rd president in the Broadway play “You’re Welcome America.” He also played a fictional candidate in the 2012 political comedy “The Campaign” with Zach Galifianakis.