Newt Gingrich is relieved that funnyman Will Ferrell has decided to pull out of an upcoming comedy film satirizing the late President Ronald Reagan’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease — but said a film about Nancy Reagan’s care for her husband in the later years of his life could be a great movie, if it were done in the vein of the 2004 romantic drama The Notebook.
In an interview with Variety Saturday night ahead of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the former Speaker of the House called the premise of the satirical film Reagan “idiotic and despicable.”
The screenplay for Reagan — which made the 2015 Black List of the best unproduced scripts in the industry and was performed in a live reading by Lena Dunham, James Brolin, and John Cho — centers on a fictional story in which President Reagan must battle dementia in his second term in office. Will Ferrell was attached to star in and produce the film before public backlash forced him to cancel his plans.
“I’m delighted that Ferrell had the good sense to figure out this is a dead loser,” Gingrich told Variety. “I hope the people who want to do the movie just drop it.”
Instead, Gingrich suggested, the film’s producers should make a film about Nancy Reagan’s tireless care for her husband in the last decade of his life, saying that Nancy had a “complicated” role in both attending to her ill husband and working to ensure his lasting legacy.
“That is the type of movie I’d be honored to be a part of,” Gingrich told Variety. “I think the whole idea of trying to make fun of someone who has dementia is sick. And I have no problem making fun of Ronald Reagan.”
Gingrich added that the movie could work very well if it were done in the style of The Notebook, the 2004 romantic drama starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.
“The Notebook deals with the real sense of the human tragedy, and at the same time of the opportunity for loving,” he said. “I’m almost crying talking to you about it. It is so real. I’ve probably seen it seven times.”
It is unclear whether other studios or actors are interested in the script for Reagan following Ferrell’s departure.
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