Update: In the wake of negative backlash from Ronald Reagan's family, Will Ferrell has dissociated himself from Reagan, the film project in which he was reportedly attached to star. Deadline reports that the actor's spokesperson has released a statement regarding Ferrell's involvement with the film. “The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered,” said the spokesman. “While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy,’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.” The spokesperson also claims that Ferrell was never formally signed on to do the project. Updated April, 29 1:10 p.m.: Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, has penned "An Open Letter To Will Ferrell" to criticize the news that the comedic actor will portray her late father and his battle with Alzheimer's in an upcoming movie. Davis writes, "Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind. It sweeps up entire families, forcing everyone to claw their way through overwhelming grief, confusion, helplessness, and anger." She continues, asking Ferrell to put himself in the shoes of family members who have personally been impacted by the disease. "Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have — I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either." News of the film, which is presumably meant to be a comedy, was not well received by Reagan's son, Michael Reagan, either. He tweeted, "#Alzheimers is not a comedy to the 5 million people who are suffering with the decease, it first robs you of your mind and then it kills you." Neither Ferrell nor anyone affiliated with the film have responded to the family's criticism. This story was originally published on April 28 at 1:45 p.m.
Will Ferrell is set to portray another iconic president from our nation's past. It's not a Bush, but it is another Republican. Ferrell will play Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States in a project titled simply Reagan. And the news is already causing a stir. Ferrell will be portraying Reagan a few years after he leaves the White House, as Variety reports, when he started showing signs of dementia. "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," Variety summarizes the plot. A reporter at Deadline continues, "Depending on your perspective, high jinks ensue." Ferrell, like most comedic actors, often treads the line between taboo and political correctness, a balancing act that makes his movies so funny to fans. But not everyone agrees that sensibility is appropriate for this particular subject matter. Republicans are upset. People who know someone with Alzheimers or dementia are upset. The idea of a room full of people making fun of a real person suffering from a health condition is upsetting a lot of people on Twitter, including Reagan's own son, Michael Reagan.
Many others share Michael's sentiments about the film. Some commenters admit that they did not even like Reagan as a political leader, but still find the idea of the film in poor taste.
Ferrell has not yet commented on the criticism following the film's announcement.