Matthew McConaughey stars in “White Boy Rick,” based on a true story. Warning: The trailer includes profanity and depicts a young teenager involved with drugs and guns.
Warning: The trailer for ‘White Boy Rick,’ which is based on a true story, includes profanity and depicts a young teenager involved with drugs and guns.
“I haven’t done many country-song roles in my career, like ‘My dog got run over the day I went to jail.’ But that is this guy,” the actor says.
He portrays Richard Wershe Sr., who can’t overcome poor life choices and generational poverty as he raises his family in White Boy Rick, which reveals its first trailer exclusively at usatoday.com.
Based on a true story that took place in 1980s Detroit, White Boy Rick (in theaters September 2018) follows Wershe’s son, Ricky (played by newcomer Richie Merritt), a streetwise kid who at age 14 becomes the youngest informant in FBI history and eventually starts dealing drugs.
McConaughey’s character is the flawed thinker who ultimately allows his son to enter the initially profitable crime world, only to have the FBI abandon him. Their moments of opulent euphoria are brief before it all turns bad.
“This guy was not equipped to handle his family,” says McConaughey. “He’s singing the chorus, like, ‘We’re going to do this.’ But reality takes over and wins. And he loses.”
McConaughey says his own family life with wife Camila Alves helped him to make the film focusing on the father-son relationship.
“I’m a dad, I have three kids. Wanting to be best friends with your kids is not the best recipe for being a father in the years that they need our direction,” he says.
Director Yann Demange says McConaughey had to immerse himself into the role, working with a dialect coach to master the Detroit accent and dispensing with his normal McConaughey glow.
“I was like, ‘Bro, you’re looking a bit too healthy for 1980s Detroit; your guy is pale,’ ” Demange says. “(McConaughey) was like, ‘I won’t go in the sun and I’ll put on some weight.’ “
Demange found Merritt, 15, to play Wershe Jr., a street hustler who earns the nickname “White Boy Rick” in the predominately African-American environment.
Merritt was discovered last year by a casting director at a Baltimore high school as he waited outside the principal’s office. He had never taken a drama class, much less an acting part. But Demange knew Merritt brought authenticity.
“It was a big chance. The studio was nervous. But I believed in the kid,” says Demange. “Richie has been through a lot. He can access an emotional truth that is quite astonishing.”
Wershe Jr. was arrested in 1987 at age 17 for cocaine possession, spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a first offense before being paroled. He’s now in a Florida prison, serving time for his involvement from behind bars in a stolen-car ring. Wershe Sr. died in 2014, without seeing his son out of prison.
McConaughey has met Wershe Jr. and finds him forthcoming of his guilt, but repentant.
“He never claimed to be a saint, but at the same time he was adamant that he never had the amount of drugs he was busted for,” the actor says. “He also understands that when he does become a free man, he will still be seen as (having) an outstanding debt to society.”
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2JgP8JB