Will Ferrell Passes on Playing Ronald Reagan in Upcoming Film [Updated]

Will Ferrell - Anchorman

During his now decades-long career making people laugh, Will Ferrell has brought to life many uniquely memorable characters, including Anchorman's Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights' Ricky Bobby. Of course, not all of Ferrell's characters have been fictional creations, with the best example perhaps being his time portraying former U.S. president George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live. Ferrell's rendition played up all the comedic stereotypes often associated with Bush to the nth degree, presenting a version of the 43rd commander-in-chief that struggled to form complex thoughts and regularly invented words like "strategery". This take on Bush proved so popular in fact that it eventually headed to Broadway for the play You're Welcome America.

While Ferrell's version of George W. Bush will likely forever live in SNL legend, a new report reveals that the Step Brothers star is now on-board to play the role of another Republican president; that being conservative hero Ronald Reagan in an upcoming film simply entitled Reagan. One of the most popular presidents in American history during his time in office, Reagan has naturally already been portrayed on-screen by multiple actors, but Ferrell's performance is set to take place within perhaps the strangest script concerning "The Gipper" to date.

[UPDATE: Variety is reporting that Ferrell has now passed on Reagan, following a public outcry in responses to news of the project from Reagan's surviving family. The remainder of this article has been left as it was originally published.]

Will Ferrell to play Ronald Reagan

A top pick in last year's annual Black List of unproduced screenplays, Reagan is the feature debut of writer Mike Rosolio, and takes place near the beginning of the late president's second term. Seemingly based on the long-standing rumor that Reagan started to suffer from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease while still in office - he was not officially diagnosed with the illness until 1994 - Rosolio's script operates on the hypothetical premise that the then-P.O.T.U.S. fell into severe dementia shortly after his re-election. Not wanting the American public to know how dire things have become, an ambitious young intern is assigned to convince a mentally confused Reagan that he is simply an actor playing the president in a movie. Variety is reporting that a director for the project has yet to be attached.

At first glance, the plot synopsis seems to suggest that Reagan will be some sort of dark comedy, and the casting of Ferrell in the lead certainly backs up that notion. That said, it is currently unclear just how dramatic Rosolio intends the screenplay to ultimately be, as words written on the page often fail to accurately convey the writer's intended tone to the reader. If Reagan is ultimately played more seriously than the logline would suggest, there's no reason to believe that Ferrell couldn't still pull it off, as evidenced by his acclaimed work in more serious fair like Stranger Than Fiction.

Unfortunately, no matter how the final product is presented, the mere assertion that President Reagan wasn't in his right mind while running the country is likely to instantly turn off those on the political right - effectively guaranteeing that a large portion of the U.S. will be unwilling to give the film a chance.

Reagan is in development, and has no current release date.

Source: Variety

Update Source: Variety

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