EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey is in negotiations to star in White Boy Rick for director Yann Demange, who is readying the drama to go before cameras in the first quarter of next year.

White Boy Rick is about Richard Wershe Jr., who in the mid-1980s at the age of only 14 became an undercover informant for local and federal law enforcement agencies and then established himself as a major drug dealer. The dual life he led eventually put him into the cross-hairs of the feds when he was found with 17 pounds of cocaine (at only 17 years of age). He was put in jail for life, but ethical questions remain as how much the feds were involved in putting him deeper into his life of drugs.

McConaughey will play Wershe’s father, a blue-collar factory worker trying to keep his family together as the automotive industry collapses around him in Detroit. The producers are currently casting the lead role of the kid now.

Studio 8 acquired the spec script last year. Steve Kloves wrote the current draft for the film off of Andy Weiss’ draft (co-scribe on George Gallo’s Middle Men), then Scott Silver’s. The pic is planning to shoot in Michigan and Ohio in March.

John Lesher is producing as is LBI Entertainment, where Lesher is now based and which has a first-look deal with Studio 8. Also producing are Studio 8, Darren Aronofsky and Protozoa Pictures’ Scott Franklin.

McConaughey, who just completed shooting The Dark Tower, won a Best Actior Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club and is being talked up again for a nomination this year for his role in Gold. He is repped by CAA.

Demange, who directed ’71, is repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group.