After a nationwide search, Studio 8 has found its White Boy Rick.
Richie Merritt, a newcomer from Baltimore, MD, has landed the title role opposite Matthew McConaughey in the biopic about the youngest informant in FBI history. The film has also cast Jonathan Majors, Y.G., Taylour Paige, and Piper Laurie.
“We are very excited to have found Richie,” says director Yann Demange. “For the purposes of our story, it was essential that we find someone who understands the life of an inner city teenager, as well as the complicated point of view and experience of the real life Ricky Wershe Jr. As a fifteen-year old kid from inner city Baltimore, Richie brings a genuine sense of authenticity to both the role and our film.”
Bel Powley, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Rory Cochrane are also on board with “’71” director Yann Demage directing the pic. Steve Kloves is rewriting the script previously written by the Millers, Andy Weiss, and Scott Silver.
Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic, “White Boy Rick” recaps the true-life story of Richard Wershe Jr. who became an undercover informant at the age of 14 before becoming a major dealer until he was arrested at age 17.
McConaughey will play Wershe’s father in the pic.
The studio was looking for someone whose chemistry worked with McConaughey’s movie star status and had the Oscar winner test with dozens of actors until landing on Merritt.
The movie will now look to start shooting this spring.
Protozoa Pictures’ Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin along with John Lesher are producing the film for Studio 8. LBI Entertainment’s Julie Yorn. Jon Silk is overseeing for Studio 8.
This is Merrit’s first major studio role as the actor is currently without representation as well.