'Big Short' Director Adam McKay Breaks Silence on 'Reagan' Alzheimer's Outrage: "We Were All Taken Aback"

The Oscar winner, who was set to produce the project with Will Ferrell, — who since has dropped out — defended the script: "The reason we even looked at it is because it actually had some sensitivity on the subject."
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Adam McKay

Speaking for the first time about the comedy script Reagan, Oscar winner Adam McKay, who was set to produce the project along with Will Ferrell, says the controversy that erupted came as a shock.

"We were all taken aback," McKay explains of the instant firestorm. "It was weird. It seemed like everyone piled on it without knowing at all what the script was about. The reason we even looked at the script is because it's actually really thoughtful and it had some sensitivity to the subject."

Ferrell was attached to play the late president in the story about a dementia-addled Ronald Reagan who is led to believe he's an actor playing the president.

Mike Rosolio penned the Black List project, and that logline was enough to upset Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, who called it "cruel" and the Alzheimer's Association also jumped in with a statement saying the organization was "appalled."

Minutes before hosting the Brady Campaign's annual Bear Awards at the Four Seasons on May 4 honoring Bill Clinton and his Big Short producer Dede Gardner, McKay adds that the project was in such a preliminary phase. "It was honestly not even a project we had set up; it didn't even have a director. It's just something we were looking at," he says. "Then all of a sudden it just steamrolled. You know, the press is a beast."

A version of this story first appeared in the May 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.