Zac Efron truly put in the work for The Iron Claw. In order to play his character, Kevin Von Erich, the actor had to look like a professional wrestler. This means Efron had to get into incredible shape to play the role, and the physique he built up was unreal. However, with all of the shirtless wrestling scenes and the scenes where he was just hanging out at home with his brothers played by Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickenson, and Stanley Simons, the actor had to be in his underwear a lot. This was pretty awkward between takes and not something he had previously considered.
The Hairspray alum opened up about what it was like working on such a physically demanding movie like The Iron Claw. He explained that he was able to transform his body and bulked up big time for the role, which led to some discomfort in general. The massive undertaking of the transformation was to be expected, but the actor soon experienced the uncomfortable nature of standing around in his underwear between takes. He explained:
One can definitely see how this could be awkward or embarrassing for a person. Doing something for a scene is one thing, but some don’t realize that actors have to stay in their “costumes” while directors set up for the next shot or scene. This can be particularly strange when your costume is just a pair of tighty-whities and there’s a massive crew behind the camera working. As Zac Efron explained, this was a challenge for him and something he had to mentally overcome. He continued while speaking to Metro:
Shooting The Iron Claw in general was a large mental undertaking for Zac Efron, who has previously discussed his body image struggles. He explained that said troubles are what led to him pushing himself too far while filming Baywatch. With that in mind, his latest flick required a lot of him in that department and was a big learning experience for him. He also had to take into account the significance of playing real-life athlete Kevin Von Erich, who had a positive reaction to the film. One would hope that Efron ultimately found the experience to be rewarding overall.
No matter how much vulnerability the movie required from its stars, it was all essential in order to tell the tragic story that was depicted. Not only did these underwear scenes communicate what it’s like being exposed physically while in the wrestling ring but also realistically what it looks like to live in a house full of hyper-masculine wrestling brothers. It may have felt strange, but unanticipated challenges are often a big part of movie making. Ultimately, Zac Efron faced a lot of mental and physical challenges in order to give off a heartbreaking and critically-acclaimed performance as Kevin Von Erich. And he should be very proud of himself for braving the awkwardness on his path to doing so.
You can check out his physically demanding role in The Iron Claw, which is currently playing in theaters nationwide. Be sure to consult our feature on upcoming A24 films, which are part of the 2024 movie schedule.