Playing the role of a professional wrestler can wreak havoc on the mind and body after enduring a few tumbles and falls while shooting in the ring.
But for Zac Efron, who slipped into the Speedo of pro wrestler Kevin Von Erich for the new biographical sports film The Iron Claw, he confessed ‘the biggest injury’ he suffered during all the high-flying action was to his ego.
‘It was the very first time that I had to enter the Sportatorium in Kevin’s full costume, which was just, frankly, a Speedo, or trunks,’ the actor recalled at a press conference following the film’s premiere in Dallas, Texas. ‘And everybody was out there, there was this huge crowd and the lights were on. I just remember in that moment thinking, how the hell did I end up here? What is going on?’
As the raucous crowd assembled screamed and yelled, Efron remembered the thought that went through his mind at the time: ‘This is Magic Mike,’ in a reference to the 2012 movie about male stripping.
The San Luis Obispo, California native added, ‘In that moment I was frozen in time just going: This is it. This is the end. How did you get here? What choices have you made?’
Bruised ego: Zac Efron, 36, admitted his ego suffered ‘the biggest injury’ when he had shootin scene in The Iron Claw in what amounts to be skimpy Speedos
Written and directed by Sean Durkin, the film is centered around the Von Erich family (born Adkisson), a dynasty of professional wrestlers from Texas that had enormous success, particularly in the 1980s, and popularized the iron claw professional wrestling hold.
Efron, 36, stars opposite Jeremy Allen White (Kerry Von Erich), 32, and Harris Dickinson (David Von Erich), 27, who all play brothers.
Upon hearing of his hesitancy to prance around in just a barely-there Speedo, Durkin joked: ‘We just wanted to celebrate you guys’ beautiful thighs.’
The story tracks the true story of the ‘rise and fall of wrestler Kevin Von Erich and his brothers, who left a lasting impact on the sport.
The Baywatch alum would also reveal at Wednesday’s press conference how his real-life character Von Erich motivated him to hit the gym and get buff to play the role.
‘The physicality he brought to the ring every single day was really unique. It changed wrestling,’ Efron told Entertainment Tonight, before adding, ‘I knew that was going to be the hardest [thing] for me to master and get right. So, I put everything I had into it.’
The real-life Kevin Von Erich, now 66, was also present at the press conference. He made a point of complimenting film’s consultant and stunt wrestling coordinator Chavo Guerrero, for ‘doing a great job pushing them and getting them ready. Because it was a lot more difficult than it looks and they did so well.’
When asked about what he thought of professional wrestling now that he’s had first-hand experience training and performing in the ring, Efron said he gained ‘a tremendous respect for the athleticism involved.’
‘Revealing: There was this huge crowd and the lights were on. I just remember in that moment thinking, how the hell did I end up here? What is going on?’ Efron (left) said of him having to shoot scenes in Speedos in front of the raucous crowd
Moment of clarity: As the raucous crowd assembled screamed and yelled, Efron remembered the thought that went through his mind at the time: ‘This is Magic Mike,’ in a reference to the 2012 movie about male stripping
Wrestling family: Jeremy Allen White and Harris Dickinson play two of Kevin Von Erich’s brothers (Efron) in the sports biopic written and directed by Sean Durkin
Stripped down: Efron and White have their fair share of scenes in Speedos
Coming: The Iron Claw is scheduled to premiere in theaters in the U.S. on December 22 and then in UK on February 9, 2024
‘There’s a commitment and a level of agonizing torture, just pure athleticism for the sake of athleticism,’ he explained.
Efron previously bulked up and wore Speedos for his role in the Baywatch (2017) movie with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
While The Iron Claw showcases the family’s rise in the sport, sadly it also chronicles the many battles and tragedies they faced outside the ring, dubbed the ‘Von Erich curse’
Along with Efron, White and Dickinson the cast also includes Maura Tierney, Stanley Simons, Holt McCallany, Lily James, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Brady Pierce, Aaron Dean Eisenberg, Kevin Anton, Cazzey Louis Cereghino, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Ryan Nemeth and Scott Innes.
The Iron Claw is scheduled to premiere in theaters in the U.S. on December 22 and then in UK on February 9, 2024.