‘The Iron Claw’ First Reactions Praise Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White-Led Wrestling Drama: ‘An Absolute Knockout’

With the fall festival circuit firmly in the rearview mirror, many of the most anticipated films of the 2023 fall season have already screened for critics. One of the last films that remained unseen was “The Iron Claw,” Sean Durkin’s new A24 sports drama that tells the story of the Von Erich wrestling family. The film, which stars Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich and Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich, premiered in Dallas on Wednesday before screening for critics in Los Angeles on Sunday. And early reactions suggest that A24 could have another hit on its hands.

“The Iron Claw” documents the rapid rise to wrestling superstardom and even quicker fall toward tragedy that befell the Von Erich family. After family patriarch Fritz Von Erich (played by Holt McCallany in the film) built a following as a villainous heel on the wrestling circuit, his sons entered the business in quick succession. However, many of his children — including, in the film, Harris Dickinson as wrestling brother David — suffered tragic deaths early in their wrestling careers, leading many to believe that there was a curse on the family. Maura Tierney co-stars as Von Erich matriarch Doris Von Erich.

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The film has attracted plenty of attention due to the extreme physical transformations that its lead actors underwent, with Efron and White both speaking publicly about the excessive amounts of food they had to eat to bulk up for the roles.

“[I was] eating all the time. Like, never stopping,” White said. “In the morning, I would have waffles, almond butter. In the middle of the day, I was eating turkey patties and avocado all the time. It’s really just gross. You’re trying to consume as much as you possibly can, and, to be honest, you don’t feel great. I was training as well, but, I don’t know, trying to get that big, it’s no way to live.”

“The Iron Claw” opens in theaters on Friday, December 22. Keep reading for a roundup of early reactions.

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