Will Ferrell to Star as Ronald Reagan in Satirical Biopic
As a President and as a man, Ronald Reagan has a complex and divisive legacy. To modern-day conservatives, his sweeping return of power to the free market and decentralization of federal influence was tantamount to an act of God; to his detractors, Reagan’s the guy who waged a racist “War on Drugs” and may or may not have approved the governmental manufacturing of crack-cocaine, the guy who allowed Wall Street to make off with the U.S. economy like bandits in the night, and the guy who sat idly by while the AIDS epidemic ravaged innocent Americans. He’s a polarizing figure, worshipped and loathed in equal measure.
Who better to convey the conflict and nuance of Ronald Reagan than celebrated thespian Will Ferrell? He’ll do just that in a new satirical-biopic simply titled Reagan, according to a new item in the Hollywood Reporter. Mike Rosolio’s Black List script comedically fictionalizes the former president’s slide into dementia near the tail end of his second term, imagining an intern tasked with keeping Reagan with-it by convincing him that he’s an actor portraying the President of the United States. This satirical take on our nation’s former leader slipping into the grip of eternity will surely be taken with good humor by Reagan’s many devotees.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter is now saying that following some controversy surrounding the film’s subject matter, Will Ferrell has dropped out of the project and will no longer be starring in or producing the film.
Will Ferrell elevated the presidential impersonation to an art form with his recurring caricature of George W. Bush, a simple-minded but headstrong good-ol’-boy unconcerned with “facts” or “using real words.” Reagan, too, has plenty of distinctive characteristics ripe for parody, though the dementia aspect of the film will demand a tricky sort of performance from Ferrell. Something like Weekend at Bernie’s in the West Wing? The project is still in its earliest gestative stages, in need of a director and studio to finance the production, but the concept shouldn’t stay up in the air for too long. A live-read last month with Josh Brolin reading for Reagan and John Cho reading as the intern (Lena Dunham and Nathan Fillion also read supporting parts) was glowingly received, indicating that it won‘t be too long until the calls for boycotts sound out from every red-state hill.