Will Ferrell has signed up to play Ronald Reagan in a comedy about Reagan's descent into dementia because of Alzheimer’s.
The New York Post' Page Six reports:
The film, which is being shopped to studios, reportedly shows the president in his second term as he begins suffering from dementia, and an intern is tasked with convincing the commander-in-chief that he is an actor playing the president.
This is supposed to be comedy?
It is worth noting that the film "Iron Lady," starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, the longest serving Prime Minister in English history, depicted Lady Thatcher suffering from dementia in retirement.
Reagan and Thatcher both spent their final years in the darkness of dementia, but dementia is a side story, not the central story of their lives; it is something tragic that happened to each after they left the great world's stage (unless you buy the dubious proposition that Reagan's dementia began while he was still in office). You've probably already factored in that Reagan and Thatcher were conservatives. Ferrell would likely find the terrible last years of a liberal leader less hilarious.
Anyone who has seen a friend or family member robbed of mental faculties by Alzheimer’s knows that the disease is not very funny. Alzheimer’s is a postscript to a life and it can be a long and harrowing postscript. Only a very slimy person would think it is fodder for comedy.
Ronald and Nancy Davis' daughter, Patti Davis, has written an open letter to Ferrell:
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.
Alzheimer’s doesn’t care if you are President of the United States or a dockworker. It steals what is most precious to a human being — memories, connections, the familiar landmarks of a lifetime that we all come to rely on to hold our place secure in this world and keep us linked to those we have come to know and love. 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.” I watched helplessly as he reached for memories, for words, that were suddenly out of reach and moving farther away. For ten long years he drifted — past the memories that marked his life, past all that was familiar…and mercifully, finally past the fear.
There was laughter in those years, but there was never humor.
Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind. It sweeps up entire families, forcing everyone to claw their way through overwhelming grief, confusion, helplessness, and anger. Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have — I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.
But you know who is really sick?
Somebody who thinks Alzheimer's is funny.
Davis runs a support group called Beyond Alzheimer's for families and caregivers of people with the disease.