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White Boy Rick 2018

White Boy Rick

White Boy Rick

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Hustler. Informant. Kingpin. Legend.

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About the White Boy Rick 💬

  • A kid turned hustler turned legend.

In 1980s Detroit, Rick Wershe Jr. was a street hustler, FBI Informant and Drug Kingpin - all before the turned 16. ''WHITE BOY RICK'' Based on the true story.


Based on true events, WHITE BOY RICK is set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the war on drugs, in a city rife with corruption on every level. WHITE BOY RICK tells the moving story of a blue-collar father, Richard Wershe Sr. and his namesake teenage son, Rick Jr. In a mind-boggling series of events, Rick Jr. enters into a Faustian bargain, becoming an undercover informant and later a drug dealer, manipulated by the very system meant to protect him only to be abandoned by his police handlers and sentenced to life in prison. This incredible story of the youngest FBI informant in history is inextricably bound to a turbulent, complicated father-son relationship. Richard Sr., equal parts hustler, schemer, and dreamer, is doing the best he can to stop the cycle of generational poverty and despair, driven by a sincere love of his kids. His son Rick Jr., caught up in his father's aspirations, willingly becomes the means by which to achieve his father's ambitions. But all the while, Richard Sr. also attempts to hold their tenuous and fractured family together - both father and son are ultimately motivated by the love of each other and their family. Their city and government betray them - the institutional injustice and corruption that defined Detroit, the home they loved, would be their undoing.

WHITE BOY RICK is a tarnished American Dream, an improbable tale of fathers and sons, friends and family, a shifting landscape of loyalty and betrayal, where everything has a cost, including love and the ultimate price may be survival. WHITE BOY RICK chronicles three critical years in the life of Rick Wershe Jr. as he rises from baby-faced teen to infamous drug dealer before ultimately becoming a pawn to some of Detroit's most powerful and corrupt politicians.


To understand how teenager Rick Wershe Jr. earned the iconic street moniker ''WHITE BOY RICK'' it's important to know when and where he grew up. Wershe was born July 18, 1969, in Detroit's working-class east side, not long after the infamous 1967 Detroit race riot. That violent urban uprising, along with the collapse of Detroit's auto manufacturing industry, hit Detroit hard. Jobs and infrastructure imploded and a new insidious and depraved subculture took hold. By the mid-1980s, Detroit was mired in the crack cocaine epidemic that was plaguing the country, but The Motor City was especially susceptible.

The city descended into a cauldron of crime and drug violence. As Barry Michael Cooper wrote in 1987 the Village Voice, ''According to official estimates there are at least two guns for every person in the Detroit metropolitan area. Nearly 56 teenagers 17 or under have been killed this year. Almost 300 have been wounded. The number exceeds last year's body count of 46 and the wounded are steadily lurching toward the 365 of 1986. Detroit is a city whose horror reaches cinematic proportions... Detroit's violence knows no boundaries. It's among the high-rise office buildings downtown, the upper-middle class homes and condos on the West Side, the poverty-worn projects on the East Side. Detroit is like that nightmare where your legs become paralyzed when the monsters are chasing you; you can't escape... The kids in Detroit are more than data on police bar graphs and newspaper charts, distributed as lunchtime chitchat or after-dinner arguments during Eyewitness News. The kids in Detroit are suffering from a disease so new, powerful and fatal that there's not even a name for it yet.''

This was an environment where Rick Wershe Jr., a baby-faced, charismatic and street-savvy teen, would spend his formative years in the 1970s and 1980s. Unlike most white families that fled East Detroit after the riots, Rick's family would stay in their modest home in the predominantly African American neighborhood. While rampant racial inequality predicated the make-up of post-riot Detroit, the Wershes, like many of their neighbors, were tethered there by economics, social strata and, in the case of Richard Sr., an almost nostalgic fealty to the American Dream. Because of the malignant socio-economics of this once great, now failed city, a young man of any color had few available options other than to turn to drugs or crime.

Fittingly, Richie Merritt who makes his acting debut playing the titular role, innately understands his character. Merritt, a white teenager from Baltimore attending a predominantly African American high school, auditioned for the role at an open casting call held at his school. The circumstances that led to Rick Wershe's downward spiral and ultimate incarceration didn't surprise Merritt and certainly the story resonated with him.

''Yes, I actually could believe it. Growing up in Baltimore and actually seeing how the police and the justice system are and how young males grow up in this city, yes, I do believe 100 percent of it was true. I just thought it was crazy how the police just did what they did. How they could get somebody to do something like that and then throw him away for years and years, his whole adult life.''

It's 1984 and 14-year-old Rick Wershe Jr. lives in a world of domestic dysfunction with his father, Richard Sr., a self-styled business hustler and gun dealer, and his older sister, Dawn, a rebel with a drug addiction. His grandparents, Roman, ''Ray'' Wershe, a retired 40-year Chrysler veteran, and wife Verna Wershe, live across the street. Rick's mother left the family years earlier in a bitter divorce.

Rick and his dad have an unorthodox father-son relationship. They are friends and, on occasion, business partners, like when Rick accompanies Richard Sr. to gun shows to scam guns on the cheap from unscrupulous dealers. When he's not dreaming of his next score or his pipe dream of opening his own video emporium, Richard Sr. utilizes his gun world insider knowledge to earn extra money as a paid informant for law enforcement. When his father is caught taking some liberties with the gun sales laws, the police threaten him with jail, so Rick, in an attempt to save his father and preserve what's left of his family, agrees to become a secret paid informant too.

At the age of 14, the FBI and Detroit Police recruit the street-smart teen into the drug world as a confidential undercover informant. Although he is not involved in drugs at the time, Rick knows many of the players in his racially mixed neighborhood. His principal assignment is to infiltrate the Curry Crew who dominate East Detroit's drug scene. Led by the charismatic Johnny ''Lil Man'' Curry, they carry a lot of political weight, as Johnny's wife, Cathy Volsan-Curry, is the niece of Detroit mayor Coleman Young. These political ties help the Curry Crew's business thrive, but later on, those relationships would work against young Rick Wershe Jr.

Rick befriends the youngest Curry brother, Rudell ''Boo'' Curry, and soon enters the Curry's dangerous world of fast cars, after-hours nightlife, mink coats, gold jewelry and, when necessary, violence. Wershe soon gains the confidence of Johnny Curry and moves up within his organization. With Rick's relationship with his own father beginning to deteriorate, Curry became like a father figure to his young protégé. Rick rises rapidly in the area's drug scene while earning his own street nickname, ''White Boy Rick,'' all the while still under the guidance and encouragement of law enforcement.

Rick's handlers from the FBI and Detroit police even ply the underage informant with pocket money, airline tickets and a fake ID, so he can join the Curry clan in Las Vegas for the big Hearns/Hagler fight, where they hope he will secure information that law enforcement can use in their case against the notorious Detroit drug dealers.

Following several dangerous runs with the Curry Brothers and law enforcement, Rick is shot by an unknown assailant. Rick survives the shooting, and while he’s recovering the FBI raids and arrests the Curry Crew. Due to Rick's work as an informant, the Curry Crew are arrested and sent to prison. With that accomplished, the FBI and local law enforcement no longer need Rick's help and drop him as an informant. Meanwhile, Rick begins mending his relationship with his father and together they help his sister.

No longer earning money from the Curry's or from law enforcement, the teen, who has since dropped out of high school, turns to the one skill he knows that he learned from law enforcement: dealing drugs. With the Curry gang in prison, Rick decides to create an empire of his own, crossing the line between informing on criminals to becoming one himself.

Taking advantage of the situation and using the relations he's accumulated, the precocious young man strikes a deal with the Curry brothers' drug wholesaler, Art Derrick, to be his supplier. Rick also takes up with Johnny ''Lil Man'' Curry's wife, Cathy.

Just like old times, Richard Sr. teams up to becomes Rick's partner in crime, traveling together with Art Derrick to Miami to strike a deal with the Cubans who supply Derrick with his illicit merchandise. He's on his way to becoming a full-fledged drug kingpin, utilizing the skills he learned working for law enforcement.

The end of Rick's criminal career comes in May 1987, when the 17-year-old is arrested for possessing 8 kilos - or 17 pounds - of cocaine and is convicted and sentenced under Michigan's 650 Lifer Law, a 1978 law that mandated life imprisonment without parole for anyone convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine.

While he's in prison, the Feds refuse to confirm or deny his involvement as an informant, so in an effort to help reduce or eliminate his sentence, Wershe begins ratting out members of the upper echelon of Detroit law enforcement, all the way up to Mayor Coleman Young himself. Rick takes on the hierarchy of Detroit's corrupt government, but his sentence is not reduced, leading to speculation that the powers-that-be have made sure he is never paroled.

In what seems like a political vendetta, Wershe - Michigan's longest-serving non-violent juvenile drug offender - spends the next 29 years in a Michigan prison. On July 14, 2017, a majority of the Michigan Parole Board voted to release him. However, he still has three years to serve in Florida for a separate offense. The 47-year-old prisoner may finally gain his freedom in 3 years or less, just in time for his 50th birthday.

White Boy Rick Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Yann Demange

Writing Credits

Andy Weiss

Logan Miller

Noah Miller


Matthew McConaughey

Richie Merritt

Bel Powley

Jennifer Jason Leigh

Brian Tyree Henry

Rory Cochrane

Bruce Dern

Piper Laurie

Jonathan Majors


RJ Cyler

Raekwon Haynes

Ishmael Ali

Eddie Marsan

Taylour Paige

Kyanna Simone Simpson

Music by

Max Richter

Cinematography by

Tat Radcliffe

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Country: United States

White Boy Rick Official Trailer

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