A day after news of the project broke, Will Ferrell has backed out of an upcoming comedy in which he was set to play former President Ronald Reagan during his battle with Alzheimer's.
"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, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "While it is by no means a 'Alzheimers comedy' as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project."
Initial reports that Ferrell would star in the satire caused immediate controversy. In an open letter to Ferrell, Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, wrote, "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."
She added, "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.' "
The Alzheimer's Association also decried the planned comedy, issuing a statement on Friday: "Would filmmakers consider using a fatal form of cancer or another deadly disease for comedy? It's time to stop this forever."
The Republican party also got involved, tweeting on Friday, "Hollywood Liberals have no shame. There is nothing funny about Alzheimer's. We stand with the Reagan family."
Reagan revealed in 1994 that he was suffering from Alzheimer's, five years after leaving office, and he died nearly 10 years later, on June 5, 2004
According to the Black List, an online script forum, the film portrays Reagan as suffering from dementia during his second term in office. "When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the Commander-In-Chief that he is an actor playing the President in a movie," the film's description reads.