Will Ferrell drops out of ‘Reagan’ after backlash

President Reagan in 1989.
(Los Angeles Times)

Will Ferrell is skipping out on the Gipper.

The 48-year-old actor was set to play the lead role in "Reagan," a satirical comedy about the former president, but on Friday a rep said he's no longer 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," a spokesperson for Ferrell said in an email to The Times. "While it is by no means an 'Alzheimer's comedy' as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project."

In the script, President Reagan is sinking into dementia and an ambitious intern has to convince him he's an actor playing the president in a movie. The script was part of the "Black List," a database of the best unproduced projects. Last month, a live reading was staged with big names like Lena Dunham and Josh Brolin.

The news that Ferrell would play a dementia-stricken Reagan was met with contempt from Ronald Reagan's children, as well as conservatives who objected to the negative portrayal of the Republican icon and Alzheimer's advocates who didn't find the idea of a person suffering from the disease particularly funny. 

News that Ferrell was dropping was first reported by the New York Post, which ran the original news under the headline "Gipper Flick Fury."


"Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind," Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, wrote in an open letter on her website. "Perhaps you would like to explain to them how this disease is suitable material for a comedy."

Evidently, he has no desire to do that.



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