The 15-year-old actor who portrays Richard Wershe Jr. in the "White Boy Rick" movie was sitting in a Baltimore principal's office when the casting crew for the movie found him.
That's according to his co-star Matthew McConaughey, who told Jimmy Fallon this week that the casting director was pitching the part to the school principal, who then pointed to Richie Merritt and said "well that's the little (bleep) you oughta start with right there."
"And this young boy, 15, who understood life on the streets comes in and gets the role and he's the lead in our film, and he does a beautiful job. He was able to behave naturally in front of a camera, and this is his first job," said McConaughey.
McConaughey said Merrit didn't even know who he was.
"We met at a bowling alley in our first meeting and I was standing at the front, and he would have walked right past me if I wouldn't have seen a picture of him and said, 'Richie Merritt?' and he said, 'Yeah,' and I said, 'McConaughey,' and he goes, 'Cool,'" said McConaughey.
"White Boy Rick" tells the story of Wershe Jr., played by Merritt, and his father, Richard Wershe Sr., played by McConaughey. Wershe was a drug dealer turned FBI informant in Detroit who wound up becoming the longest serving non-violent juvenile offender in Michigan's history. He received a life sentence for a drug conviction and did not receive parole until 2017.
The movie is in theaters nationwide starting Friday, Sept. 14.
Watch the McConaughey interview with Fallon here: