The movie White Boy Rick hits theatres this week and Gangster Report is the place to get the skinny on what’s real and what’s fictionalized for the big screen. Starring newcomer Richie Merritt and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey, the film tells the incredible true story of Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe, Jr., the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in the American prison system.

The 49-year old Werhse, Jr. was recruited to work for the U.S. government out of the eighth grade and soon, with the help of a federal drug task force, rose through the ranks of the volatile and flamboyant 1980s Detroit dope game before he was old enough to legally drive a car. He’s been behind bars since he was 18 and he was convicted in 1988 of a single drug-possession charge stemming from a traffic stop.

Below is a breakdown of the actors and the characters they are playing in the film. We also take a look at who in real life are those characters are based on or inspired from.


Richie Merritt as Richard (White Boy Rick) Wershe, Jr., the government-sponsored teenage drug-dealing prodigy who seamlessly integrated himself into the good graces of Detroit’s infamous Curry Brothers Gang and thrived in an entirely African-American Motown underworld at the height of the crack era.

Matthew McConaughey as Richard Wershe, Sr., Rick’s street hustler of a dad, a black market gun dealer.

Bel Powley as Dawn Wershe, Rick’s spunky, drug-addled older sister.

Bruce Dern as Ray Wershe, Rick’s outspoken grandfather, a retired auto-line supervisor at Chrysler Motors.

Piper Laurie as Vera Wershe, Rick’s fiery grandmother, a retired executive secretary at Chrysler Motors.

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rory Cochrane as FBI Agents Snyder and Byrd, the FBI agents who recruit Rick into his role as a drug mole at just 14 years old and task him with infiltrating the Curry Brothers Gang.

*The Agent Snyder and Byrd characters are composites of FBI agents Jim Dixon, Al Finch, Herm Groman and Marty Torgler. Dixon and Finch were the agents that actually recruited Rick to be an informant.

Brian Tyree Henry as Detroit Police Department officer Mel “Roach” Jackson, the undercover narcotics detective who helps Rick get on his feet as an aspiring drug pusher funded by the government.

*Jackson is a mostly fictionalized character but loosely based on DPD plain clothed drug unit detectives Billy Jasper and Kevin Green.

Jonathan Majors as Johnny (Lil’ Man) Curry, Rick’s flashy dope game mentor and Detroit’s premier eastside drug baron of the 1980s, who was married to Mayor Coleman Young’s favorite niece.

YG as Leo (Big Man) Curry, Johnny’s more subdued twin brother and second-in-command.

RJ Cyler as Rudell (Boo Baby) Curry, Johnny’s youngest brother, Rick’s friend and his way into the Curry Brothers Gang.

Taylour Paige as Cathy Volsan-Curry, Johnny’s beautiful, sexy and sophisticated wife, who’s uncle, Mayor Coleman Young, was the most powerful man the city of Detroit had ever seen.

Alan Jones as Willie Volsan, Cathy’s dad and Mayor’s Young’s brother-in-law, an underworld jack-of-all-trades who has his hands in police-force shakedown scheme.

Donald White as Jimmy Harris, a corrupt Detroit Police Department lieutenant, Cathy’s bodyguard and the head of an extortion racket.

Eddie Marsan as Art Derrick, a gregarious rustbelt drug boss and the biggest wholesale cocaine dealer in Detroit, who like Johnny Curry, takes Rick under his wing and tries to school him in the ways of the street.

Danny Brown as Edward (Black Ed) Hanserd, a brash and always-peacocking Detroit drug don who is a Curry Brothers Gang rival.

*Black Ed Hanserd was a force to be reckoned with in the Detroit dope world of the 1980s but never a rival of the Curry Brothers Gang.

Kyanna Simone Simpson as Brenda Moore, Rick’s high school girlfriend and mother to his child.

*Brenda serves as composite character of all three of Rick’s “baby mamas,” Toy, Fran and Shawn.

Ishmael (IshDARR) Ali as Stephan (Freaky Steve) Roussell, Rick’s right-hand man, best friend and fellow aspiring cocaine king.

James Shinkle as Bill Bufalino, as Rick’s fast-talking, high-profile attorney.

Leave a Reply