The Iron Claw is a 2023 biographical sports drama film written and directed by Sean Durkin. It is based on the life of professional wrestler Kevin Von Erich and the Von Erich family. The film stars Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Maura Tierney, Holt McCallany, and Lily James.
The Iron Claw premiered at the Texas Theatre in Dallas on November 8, 2023, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on December 22, 2023, by A24, and in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2024, by Lionsgate.
The film is centered around the Von Erich family, a dynasty of professional wrestlers from Texas that had enormous success in the 1980s and popularized the iron claw professional wrestling hold. However, they not only had to battle inside the ring, but they also fought the “Von Erich curse,” outside of it: a string of unbearable personal tragedies.
- Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich
- Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich
- Harris Dickinson as David Von Erich
- Maura Tierney as Doris Von Erich
- Stanley Simons as Mike Von Erich
- Holt McCallany as Fritz Von Erich
- Lily James as Pam Adkisson
- Maxwell Jacob Friedman as Lance Von Erich
- Brady Pierce as Michael Hayes
- Aaron Dean Eisenberg as Ric Flair
- Kevin Anton as Harley Race
- Cazzey Louis Cereghino as Bruiser Brody
- Chavo Guerrero Jr. as Edward “The Sheik” Farhat
- Ryan Nemeth as Gino Hernandez
- Scott Innes as the Ring Announcer
Durkin had a long-term aspiration to create a film based on the Von Erich family. He was a fan of professional wrestling, during his youth, and he was personally saddened by the string of Von Erich family deaths. In 2015, he began research for the film’s initial screenplay. Chris Von Erich, the youngest member of the family, was not included in the screenplay, to limit the film’s runtime. Chris died by suicide in 1991, two years prior to Kerry Von Erich, and he was the third family death (after David and Mike).
In June 2022, the film was announced to star Efron and to be produced and distributed by A24. Later, it was also developed by House Productions, with the support of Access Entertainment and BBC Film. In September, White and Dickinson were announced as joining the project to portray the Von Erich brothers, alongside Efron. One month later, McCallany and James were cast, and Juliette Howell, Angus Lamont, Maura Tierney, Tessa Ross, Derrin Schlesinger, and Harrison Huffman were confirmed as producers. In November, Friedman was cast and was later credited as an executive producer.
Principal photography began in Baton Rouge, in October 2022, and it lasted six weeks. Instead of filming the wrestling scenes in multiple edited sequences, however, the cast performed full-length, one-take wrestling matches, in front of a live audience, which was held in a furniture store that was converted to appear as the Dallas Sportatorium. Chavo Guerrero, who portrays The Sheik, also acted as the film’s primary wrestling consultant. Guerrero also spoke to the cast about premature deaths in professional wrestling, including that of his uncle, Eddie Guerrero.
The film received special dispensation from SAG-AFTRA, to continue production and promotion during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, subject to the acceptance of certain conditions and stemming from A24’s positive relationship with the union.
The Iron Claw premiered at the Texas Theatre in Dallas on November 8, 2023, hours after the end of the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike; and it was attended by Kevin Von Erich, making a public appearance in Dallas, for the first time in over 20 years, alongside Bill Mercer, Marshall, Ross Von Erich, and Trish Stratus. The film is scheduled to be released, in the United States, on December 22 by A24, and it is expected to premiere in the United Kingdom, by Lionsgate, on February 9, 2024.
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