After uproar, Will Ferrell spokesman issues statement saying actor not playing President Reagan in satire
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will Ferrell is not pursuing a film project about President Ronald Reagan, a spokesman for the actor said Friday.
The actor had read and considered the script for “Reagan” but had never committed to developing or starring in the comedic film, which had prompted a strong family backlash.
The script for “Reagan” had been described in a Variety report as a political satire about the president falling into dementia at the start of his second term.
Reagan’s children Michael Reagan and Patti Davis, as well as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, issued statements against the idea of a film portraying dementia and Alzheimer’s in a comedic fashion.
Ferrell’s spokesman said that “Reagan” is “by no means” an Alzheimer’s comedy. Reagan died of the disease in 2004.
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.
Variety reports that Ferrell will produce “Reagan.”