Deadline is exclusively reporting that 15-year-old Richie Merritt, who has no previous acting experience, has landed the key role in Yann Demange’s film White Boy Rick.
White Boy Rick focuses on the story of Richard Wershe Jr., who in the mid-1980’s at the age of 14 became an undercover informant for local and federal law enforcement agencies and then established himself as a major drug dealer. The dual life he led eventually put him into the cross-hairs of the feds at age 17 when he was found with 17 pounds of cocaine. He was put in jail for life, but ethical questions remain as to how much the feds were involved in putting him deeper into a life of drugs.
The report also states that Piper Laurie, Jonathan Majors, Y.G and Taylour Paige have also signed up to join the cast in the film. This will be Laurie’s first return to the big screen in over six years.
Producer John Lesher, had this to say about the casting Richie Merritt:
This is something that none of us had done before. We searched all over the U.S., the UK and Australia. We auditioned both real kids, with no experience, and also young actors. It was very important to us that we found someone with the authenticity and similarity in his background (to Wershe). We all just fell in love with him. He has a natural charisma.
Piper Laurie (whose credits include Hesher and Another Harvest Moon) will be playing the role Wershe Jr’s grandmother. Jonathan Majors (whose credits include Hostiles and When We Rise) will be playing the role of Johnny Curry. Rapper Y.G (whose credits include We The Party and Mac & Devin Go To High School) will be playing the role of Leo Curry. Taylour Paige (whose credits include Jean of the Joneses and Hit The Floor) will be playing the role of Cathy Volsan.
Production on White Boy Rick is set to commence on the 21st March in Cleveland, while they’re also shoot a few scenes in Detroit. Josh Lesher will serve as Producer alongside LBI Entertainment, Studio 8 and Darren Aronofsky and Protozoa Pictures’ Scott Franklin. The script has been penned by Logan and Noah Miller and Andy Weiss. The recent casting will be joining a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Bruce Dern, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Bel Powley and Brian Tyree Henry.
White Boy Rick is currently scheduled for cinematic release on the 12th January 2018.