Despite Wednesday’s news that Will Ferrell had signed on to play former president Ronald Reagan in an upcoming comedy from writer Mike Rosolio, the actor’s representatives have confirmed that he will not be taking on the role of the conservative legend.
According to the rep, the actor and comedian was only considering the role and had not yet decided on whether to he was going to accept the offer. “The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered,” Ferrell’s representative said in a statement. “While it is by no means [an] ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”
It wasn’t long after Variety first broke the casting news that public backlash over the film’s concept came pouring in. The former commander-in-chief’s family also took Ferrell—who was reportedly expected to produce the feature on top of starring in it—to task in an open letter, citing the Reagan script’s insensitivity towards individuals with dementia.
“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,” Patti Davis, Reagan’s daughter, wrote in a scathing piece published on to her website. Davis continued, “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.”
While this week’s back-and-forth might be the first time the general public has heard of the Reagan script, it received a staged reading last month, which featured John Cho, Lena Dunham, Nathan Fillion and James Brolin as Reagan. It’s unclear what the future holds for the film, which landed on this year’s list of top unproduced screenplays. It seems, though, that it might be best if we all just forgot about it, as Alzheimer’s is certainly no laughing matter.