Zac Efron takes on the role of renowned wrestler Kevin Von Erich in the film “The Iron Claw,” where he stars alongside Lily James. Efron, who undergoes a physical and emotional transformation for the challenging role, admits that portraying the character took a toll on him, resulting in real bruises from simulated fights and a need for a genuine emotional outlet.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Efron reveals that a pivotal scene in the movie, where his character receives a heartfelt hug from Lily James’ character, brought unexpected emotional relief. The hug, unlike the staged physical encounters in the ring, provided Efron with a genuine and much-needed moment of warmth and connection.

The film revolves around the Von Erich wrestling family, known for their tragic history, with Efron portraying Kevin Von Erich. Director Sean Durkin chose to focus primarily on the relationship between Kevin and his brothers, emphasizing their love for each other. Lily James, who joined the project later, plays a crucial role in depicting the emotional depth of Kevin’s life beyond the wrestling ring.

Efron acknowledges the personal impact of the film, resonating with themes of American masculinity, trauma, and grief. The on-screen chemistry between Efron and James, facilitated by Durkin’s preference for long, uninterrupted takes, resulted in a natural and compelling portrayal of their characters’ evolving relationship.

The hug scene, described by Efron as “very needed,” serves as a cathartic moment for his character, breaking through emotional barriers that had been reinforced by a lifetime in the wrestling world. Efron reflects on the parallel between Kevin’s journey and his own experiences with repressed emotions, emphasizing the importance of addressing such emotions for personal well-being.

Despite the challenging nature of the role, Efron expresses gratitude for the creative process and the opportunity to delve into unexplored emotional territory. Lily James also praises the collaborative and welcoming atmosphere on set, highlighting the joy they experienced while filming lighter scenes, such as line dancing at Kevin and Pam’s wedding.

In conclusion, “The Iron Claw” not only explores the complexities of the Von Erich family but also becomes a personal journey for Zac Efron, rekindling his love for the filmmaking process and offering a unique and fulfilling experience in his career.

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