Will Ferrell drops Reagan comedy after outrage

Posted at 9:39 AM, Apr 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-30 10:39:04-04

Ronald Reagan's devastating battle with Alzheimer's doesn't really sound like comedy gold. But Will Ferrell was reportedly considering starring in a comedy about Reagan's dementia — until the public backlash hit.

The script wound up on an annual list of Hollywood's most popular unproduced screenplays. It reimagines Reagan battling Alzheimer's during his second term. The movie's plot would center around an aide trying to convince Reagan that he's acting in a movie about the president.

Ferrell's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions, optioned the script, and the actor was apparently considering a starring role. But the notion of a film poking fun at Reagan and Alzheimer's disease rubbed quite a few people the wrong way.

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

Ferrell's camp contested the idea that the script makes fun of Alzheimer's but said he was no longer pursuing the project. It's not clear if the film will move ahead without Ferrell's involvement.

This video includes images from Getty Images.