White Boy Rick: Detroit 1980s War Drug Drama, Starring Matthew McConaughey

Based on true events, White Boy Rick is set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs.

It tells the moving story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, who became undercover informant and later drug dealer, before he was dropped by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison.

The film stars newcomer Richie Merritt as Ricky Wershe Jr., and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as Ricky’s father, Richard Wershe Sr.

Richie Merritt, 15, was discovered in Baltimore during extensive nationwide talent search.  Hailing from a similar socioeconomic background as Wershe, Merritt’s natural talent and charisma impressed the filmmakers, as well as his chemistry with McConaughey who plays his father.

The film also features Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh (“Hateful Eight”) and Rory Cochrane (“Black Mass”) as the FBI agents who work with Rick as a confidential informant.

Brian Tyree Henry (FX’s “Atlanta”) is narcotics detective Officer Jackson, two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska) is Rick’s grandfather, Ray Wershe, three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie (“Carrie,” “Children of a Lesser God”) is Rick’s grandmother, Verna Wershe; BAFTA nominee Bel Powley (“Diary of a Teenage Girl”) as Rick’s sister, Dawn; Jonathan Majors (“Hostiles”) as Johnny Curry; Rapper YG (“Blame It on the Streets”) as Leo Curry; RJ Cyler (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”) as Rudell Curry; Taylour Paige (VH1’s “Hit the Floor”) as Cathy Volsan; and Kyanna Simone Simpson (“Fist Fight”) as Brenda.

White Boy Rick is directed by Yann Demange (“’71”), from an original screenplay by Logan & Noah Miller with revisions by writers Andy Weiss, Scott Silver, and Steve Kloves.

The film is being produced by John Lesher (“Birdman,” “‪Black Mass”), Julie Yorn (“Hell or High Water,” “The Other Woman”), Darren Aronofsky (“Jackie,” “Noah”) and Scott Franklin (“Jackie,” “Black Swan”).

Executive producers are Georgia Kacandes, Ari Handel, Matthew Krul, Christopher Mallick, Michael J. Weiss, Logan Miller and Noah Miller.

Born in Paris and raised in London, Demange made his directorial film debut in 2014 with the critically acclaimed drama 71, starring Jack O’Connell, which followed a young British soldier who is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971.

The film was nominated for a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut and earned Demange the British Independent Film Award for Best Director.

The behind the scenes team includes director of photography Tat Radcliffe (“’71,” “Pride”), production designer Stefania Cella (“Black Mass,” “Downsizing”), costume designer Amy Westcott (“Nightcrawler,” “Black Swan”), and editor Chris Wyatt (“’71,” “This is England”).

White Boy Rick will shoot primarily on location in Cleveland through early June with a couple of days in Detroit and Las Vegas.

The film is scheduled for release by Sony Pictures January 12, 2018.