‘The Iron Claw’: Zac Efron To Star In Film Based On Tragic True Story Of The Von Erich Wrestling Family

I can’t believe it’s taken this long, but the tragic story of the Von Erichs, once the most powerful and influential family in all of professional wrestling, is coming to the big screen. And surprisingly, it will star Zac Efron.

Deadline reports Efron will star in The Iron Claw, a film being set up at A24 with Sean Durkin writing and directing. Durkin is known for his breakout feature, Martha Marcy May Marlene. He then took nearly a decade for his sophomore effort, 2020’s The Nest, which is even better. Durkin has been talking up this project for a couple of years, but now with Efron in a lead role he’s ready to move on it.

The film will follow “the rise and fall of the Von Erich family, a dynasty of wrestlers who made a huge impact on the sport from the 1960s to the present day.” 

That’s an understatement. The Von Erichs were hit by a series of tragedies that go beyond mere bad luck, it’s like the family was cursed. Patriarch Fritz Von Erich led the revered wrestling family out of Texas where they were treated like royalty. Fritz’s first-born son Jack died at age 6 by drowning. His son David, seen as the greatest wrestler of all of Fritz’s kids, died in Tokyo in 1984 from inflammation of the small intestine, totally freak thing to happen. Following that, Fritz’s wrestling sons Mike, Chris, and Kerry all committed suicide. His last surviving son, Kevin got out of the business but not without his share of emotional scars.

Others in the Von Erich extended family continue to wrestle.

The Iron Claw title comes from Fritz’s finishing maneuver which he used to win multiple championships. Fritz died of cancer in 1997 aged 68.

A recent episode of Dark Side of the Ring recounted the heartbreaking Von Erich story and it’s worth checking out ahead of this movie.

Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.