Zac Efron And His Newly Swole Physique Earn Praise From WWE Hall Of Famer Ahead Of Wrestling Biopic

Wrestling biopics aren't exactly the norm in Hollywood at this point, but that looks to be changing, with at least two high-profile features on the way that center on big names from the world of pro wrestling. There's Chris Hemsworth's Hulk Hogan flick, for which he put a particular effort on buffing up his arm muscles, and there’s Zac Efron & Co.’s drama that’ll focus on the legendary Von Erich family of athletes. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the High School Musical vet has been busy doing some bulking up of his own, and his physique has even impressed the very WWE Hall of Famer he’s portraying in the film, Kevin Von Erich.

The Iron Claw will tell the inspirational and tragic tale of the Von Erich clan’s ascent within the world of sports entertainment, and the massive impact they had on pro wrestling across the board, from regional outfits to the big brands like WWE (then-WWF). While Kevin Von Erich has largely been absent from that world for years, save for occasional appearances and the family’s Hall of Fame induction, he shared some positive thoughts with TMZ about Efron’s pumped-up look, as well as how challenging he thinks the project will be for the actors, saying:

You know, it's going to be a hard job, I think. It's a lot of information, and a lot of time, and they've got some tough work ahead of them. 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.

There are probably few better compliments that Zac Efron could have earned from Von Erich, whose in-ring career spanned around 30 years, give or take a few regarding some later appearances. And true to his point, Kevin wasn’t generally known for being a hyper-muscular athlete as much as a gifted technical wrestler, though he was obviously still fit as a fiddle. So in that respect, Zac Efron does look like the Hollywood-ized version of the legend, and it makes me even more interested to see the film’s take on Kerry Von Erich, with The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White cast for that role.

Kevin Von Erich spoke to the fact that he was never a bodybuilder for the sake of it, but was more focused on staying in shape overall, since it makes life easier. Especially for athletes whose bodies have been bruised and battered over time. Hopefully the added muscles help Efron evade any injuries during filming. 

When asked if he'd talked to Efron at all about the role, Von Erich said that hadn't happened at this point to date. In his words:

No, I haven't. But my daughters love him, and so they think he's the right guy to do it. But I don't know. I don't even watch movies nowadays, really.

Sounds like the Hall of Famer should definitely have his daughters Kristen and Jillian around if and when that convo with Efron ever happens, or Von Erich might be facing some long-term grudges in the future. 

Speaking of younger generations, the legend's sons, who wrestle under the names Ross and Marshall Von Erich, also shared their thoughts on Instagram, sharing a pic of their dad next to the behind-the-scenes shot of Efron, with the message:

Excited about this new project on our family and it really looks like @zacefron is taking this role seriously. Very pumped to watch #TheIronClaw

The Iron Claw doesn’t yet have a release date locked down, but fans can probably expect to see some cross-promotional fun happen with the WWE whenever we’re closer to a debut. Those with Peacock subscriptions can check out past Von Erich matches. While waiting for more movie news, head to our 2022 movie premiere schedule to see everything still heading our way this year, while our 2023 rundown will help everyone get ready for a new year of big-screen action. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.