Former crack-era Detroit drug czars Art Derrick and Edward (Big Ed) Hanserd will appear as characters in the upcoming White Boy Rick movie set to unspool the crazy tale of one-time illegal juvenile federal informant and Southeast Michigan teenage cocaine dealer Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe. Derrick will be played by Eddie Marsan of Ray Donovan fame and Hanserd is portrayed by Motor City rapper Danny Brown in his debut acting role.

White Boy Rick will land in theatres in 2018. Shooting wrapped last month. Newcomer Richie Merritt plays Wershe and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey plays his dad. Veteran Hollywood actors and Oscar-nominees Bruce Dern and Piper Laurie are cast as his grandfather and grandmother, respectively. The film is directed by Yann Demange (71). Laurie is a Detroit native.

The 48-year old Wershe was paroled from state prison in Michigan last week after doing almost three full decades behind bars for a single drug possession conviction and could be free by this time next month. He is the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in the United States.

Less than a month out of the eighth grade, Wershe was recruited into the Detroit narcotics scene by a federal task force aimed at dismantling a criminal organization being run out of his eastside neighborhood by a suave, politically-connected coke and heroin kingpin named Johnny (Little Man) Curry. From ages 14 to 16, Wershe was paid to infiltrate Curry’s crew and provide the task force intelligence on the drug chieftain’s affairs until the relationship dissolved and Wershe went off and began dealing cocaine on his own. Found guilty at trial for an arrest he took when he was 17, he’s been locked up since January 1988.

Much like Curry, who was married to then-Mayor of Detroit Coleman A. Young’s niece in the 1980s and did 14 years in a federal prison for his drug peddling at the peak of the nation’s crack epidemic, Derrick, known simply by his initials “A.D.” on the street, acted as an underworld mentor to Wershe and bragged publically of being a father figure to him and bestowing upon him his catchy nickname. Wershe and Derrick were the only two white people operating in the inner-city Detroit drug game at that period of time.

Derrick appeared at Wershe’s first parole hearing in March 2003 before succumbing to a battle with substance abuse two years later at 52. He had done a mere three years in prison despite being the primary wholesale cocaine baron based in Michigan in the mid-to-late 1980s, compared to Wershe’s relative minor status in that world and far-harsher punishment.

Eddie Marsan has gained critical acclaim for his acting work the last four years on the popular Showtime series Ray Donovan about a Boston Irish gangster’s transformation into a law firm fixer in Los Angeles in which Marsan plays the title character’s brother, a retired boxer. Marsan is British and can be seen in the Robert Downey, Jr.-vehicle Sherlock Holmes movies as well.

Big Ed Hanserd, more commonly referred to as “Black Ed” or “Eddie Money” in eastside narcotics circles, was a contemporary of Johnny Curry’s and one of the flashier drug bosses of that era in Motown. Today 57, Hanserd did 27 years in prison, finally walking free from drug-conspiracy and weapons convictions late last fall and relocating to California. Actor Jonathan Majors plays Curry in the White Boy Rick movie.

While Derrick had a private plane he bought from the legendary Rolling Stones rock-and-roll band to tool around the country in, Hanserd had a fleet of expensive cars. Hanserd was taken into custody in July 1989 as he got into his candy apple red-colored BMW in the parking lot of a suburban shopping mall. His gleaming, mint-condition car collection also included custom-made Porsches and Ferraris built as replicas of ones driven by actors Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas on the smash television show Miami Vice.

During the height of his power, Hanserd owned several hair salons and barber shops. By the late 1980s, he had developed supply sources in Los Angeles through notorious west coast coke kingpins Richard (Freeway Ricky) Ross and Brian (Waterhead Bo) Bennett.

Danny Brown (born Daniel Sewell) is a 36-year old Detroit rap staple who hails from the city’s westside. An admitted former drug pusher himself, Brown is affiliated with hip hop artists ASAP Rocky, Schoolboy Q and 50 Cent and his G-Unit group (Young Buck, Tony Yayo & Lloyd Banks) and released his first solo album in 2010.

Brown isn’t the only skilled rhyme spitter cast in White Boy Rick. Southern California rapper Y.G. is on board to play Leo (Big Man) Curry, Johnny Curry’s twin brother and partner in crime, and Milwaukee rapper IshDARR is portraying Stephen (Freaky Steve) Roussell, Wershe’s best friend and right-hand man who was slain in September 1987.

Danny Brown

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