Principal photography has officially begun on the Studio 8 drama, White Boy Rick, which is being produced by LBI Entertainment and Protozoa Pictures. Based on true events, White Boy Rick is set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, and tells the moving story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, who became an undercover informant and later a drug dealer, before he was dropped by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison.
15-year-old Richie Merritt was discovered in Baltimore during an extensive nationwide talent search. Hailing from a similar socioeconomic background as Wershe, Merritt’s natural talent, charisma and authenticity impressed the filmmakers, as well as his chemistry with Matthew McConaughey who plays his father.
White Boy Rick also features Oscar nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh (Hateful Eight) and Rory Cochrane (Black Mass) as the FBI agents who begin working with Rick as a confidential informant, and Brian Tyree Henry (FX’s Atlanta) as narcotics detective Officer Jackson; two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The Hateful Eight) as Rick’s grandfather, Ray Wershe; three-time Oscar nominee Piper Laurie (Carrie, Children of a Lesser God) as 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.
The behind-the-scenes team on White Boy Rick 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 film primarily on location in Cleveland through early June with a couple of days in Detroit and Las Vegas. The film is scheduled for release through Sony Pictures on January 12, 2018.