It took less than a day for public figures to pounce on Will Ferrell’s next project, which would have been a new comedy surrounding the late Ronald Reagan.
The film would have included Ronald Reagan’s struggle with dementia, and although comedy often stems from tragedy, this comedic plot did not go over well with many people – including Reagan’s family.
The political satire would have made light of Reagan’s fight with Alzheimer’s as well, and although that would have been just a small point in the planned production, the backlash was enough to force Ferrell to drop out of the project.
A spokesperson for Ferrell claimed that Ferrell never officially joined the cast stating, “The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered.” The statement continued, ” While it is by no means a ‘Alzheimers comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”
Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, was one of the first to speak out against the film when outlets reported Ferrell’s involvement. Davis’ open letter read, “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.”
Davis continued: “I watched as fear invaded my father’s eyes — this man who was never afraid of anything. I heard his voice tremble as he stood in the living room and said, ‘I don’t know where I am.'”
Harry Johns, the Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO, also wrote an open-letter about the project stating:
“The Alzheimer’s Association is appalled that anyone would plan to develop a film that satirizes an individual living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Would filmmakers consider using a fatal form of cancer or another deadly disease for comedy? It’s time to stop this forever.
“The idea that a film depicting President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s, or anyone with dementia, as a comedic device is offensive. More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease, and their 15 million family caregivers provide support every day. This disease is not a joke. In addition to its devastating impact, it is fatal. The Alzheimer’s Association will rally against anyone who marginalizes the devastating and deadly impact of Alzheimer’s disease.
“President Reagan and his family were champions in raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and the need to fund research for its cure. The Alzheimer’s Association and our advocates will continue to work to ensure all those living with this disease have the care and support they need while striving toward our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.”
It’s unclear if any actor will pickup the role at this point, but it seems unlikely that the film will move forward.