ENTERTAINMENT

How Jeremy Allen White & Zac Efron Formed a Lasting Brotherly Bond

Playing real-life brothers in The Iron Claw saw the stars form their own special bond
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In December 2023 when Zac Efron got his well-deserved – and some would say overdue – star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, it was The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White who was one of those called on to deliver a speech honouring the talented High School Musical star. Watching their embrace and listening to White’s words, they seemed like old pals.

Watch this exclusive clip of The Iron Claw. Article continues below

“He’s devastatingly handsome, he’s kind and he’s endlessly hard-working,” said White. “But what I think I admire most about Zac is the way that he supports his cast and crew. He champions us and wants us at our best all the time. To me I think he’s selfless, he’s ego-less. I love you buddy.”

But as it turns out, the pair have only recently come to know each other, forming a brotherly bond themselves as they played real-life siblings in the movie The Iron Claw.

Their firm friendship was on show when WHO caught up with them over Zoom to chat about the new movie, as they praised each other’s recent achievements – Efron’s Hollywood star and White’s Golden Globe win for his portrayal of Carmy in The Bear.

Efron, 36, explains that they first came together for the gruelling training regime they undertook ahead of shooting to get in shape to play Kevin and Kerry Von Erich, two brothers from a family of professional wrestlers from Texas that made history in the sport in the ’80s. As well as bulking up for the physical transformation, they also had to learn complex wrestling moves and choreography to make their performance compelling and convincing.

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Playing brothers in the movie has seen White and Efron bond in real life. (Credit: Getty)

“I was familiar with Jeremy’s work but you never know until you meet someone and when you do a movie like this you get thrust into an immediate position where it’s kind of like you hit it off or you don’t,” Efron says.

“When you’re thrown into the ring with somebody there’s nowhere to really hide. You’re in it to win it. We all became friends really quickly and that’s just not always the case. I’m very grateful for that time and the opportunity to work with these boys. I appreciate you Jeremy.”

Jeremy Allen White hugs Zac Efron at Hollywood's Walk of Fame
White was on hand to deliver a heartfelt speech when Efron received his star on the Walk Of Fame. (Credit: EPA/CAROLINE BREHMAN)

In telling the tragic story of the closeknit Von Erich brothers and their overbearing father – both in and out of the wrestling ring – the film explores themes of masculinity, resilience and sacrifice. The complex issues resonated with both of the stars.

“There’s an old saying the greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward … I believe that in certain circumstances,” says Efron. “I’ve always believed in leaving it all on the field and committing 100 per cent. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in. But it’s important to sit back and occasionally take stock and make sure that you’re not sacrificing too much.”

Jeremy Allen White wrestles in a scene from the movie The Iron Claw
White underwent a dramatic body transformation for the movie (Credit: A24)

White, 32, agrees. “So many actors that I admire, or at least stories that I would hear about their commitment and discipline in preparation for work, I always admired those things,” he says.

“But of course you have to be careful not to neglect yourself too much in the process and not neglect the rest of your life. I think sometimes maybe it’s tempting, or it has been for me at times, when taking on certain jobs to fully retreat into the work bit. You do have to be careful at times because you need to take care of yourself and you need to take care of those around you and you can’t go away for too long.”

The cast of The Iron Claw appear in a still from the movie
Harris Dickinson, Zac Efron, Stanley Simons and Jeremy Allen White in The Iron Claw (Credit: A24)

Disappearing into their roles was made easier for the pair with their new bodies and wigs. “The extensions and the wigs and the flamboyant wardrobe and any weight that we put on was helpful in separating myself a little bit … I know for the first couple of weeks of training, if I caught myself in the mirror I’d get nervous,” laughs White.

For Efron, nailing an incredible physical transformation was a personal challenge he had often wondered about. “All the training and physical commitment, that’s something that you have to do on your own. It’s kind of up to you,” explains the star, who got into different shape for his role in Baywatch.

“I’ve always really enjoyed seeing actors commit to those physical transformations and I always wondered if I could do one on this level so it was really nice to see what it takes and try it out. And it was hard! But at the end of the day it’s a lot easier to live in the character when you’ve done physical preparation. So much just fits into place. You already feel like them, you’re sore like them, you’re tired … and craving sweets.”

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Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White star as Kevin and Kerry Von Erich. (Credit: A24)

Where to watch The Iron Claw

For those eager to delve into the complex story of the Von Erich family, The Iron Claw is now available to rent or buy in Australia on AppleTV+ and Prime Video.

While there is no official announcement on when fans can expect the A24 blockbuster to arrive on streaming platforms, it has been reported that viewers can anticipate The Iron Claw to be available to stream from around May 2024. 

Stream The Iron Claw on Prime Video from $9.99/month with a 30-day free trial. Subscribe now. 

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