Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rick Wershe’s Conversation with a Movie Star

On Valentine’s Day Rick Wershe was interviewed by the chair of the Michigan Parole Board as part of the process required to grant him parole after 29 years in prison for a nonviolent drug crime. Wershe and his lawyer believe the interview went well. The results will be presented to the full board at its next meeting, the second Friday in March. Rick Wershe had another pleasant experience recently during a phone call. Here’s what happened.

People who have been following the saga of Richard Wershe, Jr. know Hollywood has taken an interest in using his story to develop a movie about White Boy Rick, the name the police and news media gave him after he was arrested.

Filming begins next month in Detroit with additional production in Ohio. The Buckeye State figures into the picture strictly for tax reasons. States compete intensely for motion picture production projects by offering tax incentives. Apparently, Ohio gave the producers of the film an attractive package, so some scenes will be shot there instead of Detroit or Hollywood.

Wershe is pleased that Hollywood wants to tell his story, or at least part of it. A single movie couldn't possibly tell his complete life story. He’s had enough adventures and mis-adventures for a series of movies. Wershe is helping the producers through regular phone calls from prison.

In one recent phone call with Scott Franklin (Noah, Black Swan, The Wrestler) the producer of the White Boy Rick film, Franklin said there was someone in his office he would like to put on the phone with Rick. Movie star Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club, Magic Mike, Failure to Launch) came on the line.

Actor Matthew McConaughey-he will play the role of Rick Wershe's father, Richard Wershe, Sr., in a film due out next January. (Photo-Wikimedia Commons)

“He was a real nice guy, “Wershe tells me. “We talked about how I do my time (in prison). I told him, day by day. I said I have good days and bad days.”

Wershe says they also talked about his late father. McConaughey is starring in the film as Rick’s father, Richard Wershe, Sr. “We talked a little about my Dad, nothing specific,” Wershe recalls. “I just told him my Dad loved him as an actor. The senior Wershe passed away in 2014, a victim of cancer.

Richard J. Wershe, Sr. in a photo from around 2012

Wershe says other media accounts stating that McConaughey offered him a job after he gets out of prison are inaccurate. He says Scott Silver, one of the screenplay writers on the film, offered to pay a year’s rent for Rick wherever he wants to live or he could live with Silver and his family in New York. Silver’s offer was in a letter of support for Wershe submitted to the Michigan Parole Board as part of the campaign to win a parole.

Wershe is flattered by all of this but he says his goal is to try to have a normal life, whatever that this, after nearly three decades—his entire adult life—behind bars. The first thing he wants to do is visit the graves of his father, and his grandfather and grandmother. Roman Wershe passed away in 1985. Vera Wershe passed away in 1988.

Rick Wershe, seated at the right. His grandfather, Roman Wershe, is on the left. His friend Dave Majkowski is in the center.

In the meantime, Wershe says, “I’m just waiting to see what happens next.” 

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