Amid flak, Will Ferrell bows out of comedic Ronald Reagan biopic

Following criticism from supporters of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, including two members of his immediate family, comedian Will Ferrell has decided to back out of a comedy allegedly making light of the ex-president’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was just about a week ago when Ferrell, 48, announced that he was interested in starring in the titular role in Reagan, a comedic biopic. At that time, he had expressed interest not only in starring, but also in producing the film. But on Friday, Page Six stated in an exclusive report that the Anchorman star changed his mind, quoting one of his representatives in the report.

“The ‘Reagan’ script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered,” the 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.”

Although the representative clarified that the film may not be a pure comedy, albeit still an alternate version of real-life history where Reagan develops Alzheimer’s at the start of his second term in office, it was not stated whether complaints from Reagan’s children led to Ferrell’s decision to pull out. On Thursday, Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis said that the movie was “cruel,” while Ferrell was “heartless” for even considering to star as her father.

“There’s nothing funny about Alzheimer’s. It is terrifying for the families of those who suffer from it,” Davis told Page Six. “They live with the fear (of) what will change next, they have to live with this terror and grief every day. This movie is cruel, not just to my father, but to the millions of people who have the disease, and the millions more who care for them and watch them suffer every day.”

Davis did, however, speak favorably of Ferrell a day later, saying that she was “relieved” that he ultimately changed his mind. Her brother Michael Reagan had similar sentiments, thanking Ferrell on Twitter for “taking the right path.”