the bear claw

A24 Got Its Beefiest Boys for The Iron Claw

Brothers in wrestling. Photo: A24

Brothers, muscles, and indie-film directors — oh my! A24’s upcoming film The Iron Claw has already done quite some job drumming up interest — mainly in the physical transformation that star Zac Efron has gone through in preparation for the role. “Zac Efron shirtless” will always be evergreen. But beyond the abs, there’s … more abs. Two more pairs, to be exact. The Iron Claw follows the real-life story of the wrestling Von Erich brothers, produced by A24 and directed by Sean Durkin. Efron, famed High School Musical alum, in an indie movie by a director known for exploring the psychological interiority of characters — and the minds in question are three buff brothers? Meaty and intense. Below, everything else you need to know about The Iron Claw.

Feast upon the trailer.

The first full trailer for the film debuted on October 11, showing off ripped, wild-haired Efron and his family of yoked-alikes. Just like the Von Erich family in real life, the movie seems to be a mix of spectacle and utter tragedy. “People said my family was cursed,” Efron intones in the trailer’s opening. “Mom tried to protect us with God. Pop tried to protect us with wrestling.” Anyone who knows the story of this family is well aware that no amount of protection worked. We also get a fair amount of Lily James as Pamela J. May, Kevin’s wife. It’s not a boxing movie, but we hope she gets a scene half as good as what Heidi Gardner got on SNL as “Angel (Every Boxer’s Girlfriend).

Let’s talk beef.

Troy Bolton is indeed getting ripped. A recent pic of the actor showed off a much expanded physique, with abs that can only be described as tall and shoulders that can only be described as bulbous.

If you’ve been following Efron’s every move health journey, this development might come as somewhat of a surprise. Following his body transformation for the 2017 film Baywatch, Efron did not seem particularly pleased with the impact the film had on his body. “That Baywatch look, I don’t know if that’s really attainable,” he told Men’s Health this month. “There’s just too little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake; it looks CGI’d.” Additionally, the recovery process was … not ideal. “I started to develop insomnia,” he said, “and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recentering. Ultimately they chalked it up to taking way too many diuretics for way too long, and it messed something up.” Despite this, he’s back on the hefty workout grind for this movie, making himself bigger than ever before.

This time, however, he’s got a brother-in-actual-arms. The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White is intending to gain at least 40 pounds of muscle to play Kerry Von Erich, according to a recent GQ profile. Efron sent him a note of encouragement reading, “Get training, eat, keep doing what you’re doing, stay hard.” Telling your brother to “stay hard”? What is this, House of the Dragon?

Who else is in the cast?

Efron plays Kevin Von Erich, a pro wrestler in a family dedicated to the sport. The true story begins in the 1960s through the present day, following not just Efron and White’s Von Erichs, but a third wrestling brother, David, played by Triangle of Sadness’s Harris Dickinson. Other actors who have signed on to the project include James as Kevin’s wife, Pamela, and Maura Tierney and Holt McCallany as the Von Erichs’ parents, Doris and Fritz. In real life, Fritz was a pro wrestler as well, and he trained his sons. Pro-wrestler Maxwell Jacob Friedman is making his feature-film debut in the film, according to Deadline, though details of his role haven’t been shared. The movie is being both written and directed by Durkin, a filmmaker best known for Martha Marcy May Marlene, a paranoia-filled thriller in which Elizabeth Olsen stars as a recovering cult member, meaning The Iron Claw may be more than your typical sports biopic.

Does the Von Erich family approve of the film?

While the family may not be heavily involved in the production of the film, it does have Kevin Von Erich’s blessing. “It’s got to be a hard job. It’s a lot of information, and a lot of time, and so, you know, they’ve got some tough work ahead of him,” Kevin told TMZ. “But I saw a picture of the guy, he looked great. I don’t think I ever looked that good. So, I think they’re going to be great. I’ll bet they do.” While the two haven’t spoken directly, Kevin has spoken with the film’s director Sean Durkin. Kevin isn’t the only family member approving of the casting choice. “My daughters love him, and so they think he’s the right guy to do it,” he shared. His sons Ross and Marshall Von Erich also approve of the casting and film as they posted a side-by-side image of Kevin and Efron to Instagram, expressing their support.

When’s the release date?

The Iron Claw is set to release on December 22 — prime real estate for awards season, but also prime real estate for seeing a movie starring hot guys with your mom while you’re home for Christmas. And if she makes an inappropriate comment about what she wants Jeremy Allen White to do to her, that’s all just part of the holiday spirit.

This post has been updated throughout. 

A24 Got Its Beefiest Boys for The Iron Claw