LOS ANGELES • Actor Will Ferrell will not be participating in a comedy about former United States president Ronald Reagan's struggles with dementia, after the family of the late Reagan criticised the project.
Ferrell, famous for his comedic impersonation of former US president George W. Bush, was reported by film trade publication Variety last week to be playing the president in Reagan, a comedy that follows a White House intern tasked with persuading a dementia-ridden Reagan that he is an actor in a movie playing president.
"The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an 'Alzheimer's comedy' as has been suggested, Mr Ferrell is not pursuing this project," United Talent Agency, which represents the actor, said in a statement.
Ferrell's involvement was quickly criticised by Mr Reagan's daughter Patti Davis and son Michael Reagan, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and the Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer's is a progressive brain disorder that destroys memory.
"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'," Ms Davis (who took her mother Nancy Reagan's maiden name) wrote in an open letter to Ferrell, 48.
"The only certainty with Alzheimer's is that more will be lost and the disease will always win in the end. Perhaps you would like to explain to them how this disease is suitable material for a comedy," she added.
Last Friday, Mr Michael Reagan responded to the news of Ferrell not pursuing the project on Twitter, saying, "Thank you for taking the right path."
Mr Reagan died in 2004 aged 93 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's.
Reagan, written by Mike Rosolio, was featured on Hollywood's annual Black List, a selection of screenplays that more than 1,000 film industry professionals have picked as promising works that have yet to be made into feature films.