Zac Efron reveals gruelling body transformation for upcoming wrestling film The Iron Claw

By Charlie Sawyer

Updated Jan 5, 2024 at 03:24 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Everyone’s favourite Wildcat is dominating headlines right now. Zac Efron has become a serious Hollywood contender over the past few years, shining in productions such as Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and The Greatest Showman. On 11 December 2023, the actor even snagged his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Efron’s next project is a film titled The Iron Claw. The A24 movie will look at the lives of the Von Erich brothers—one of the US’ most famous professional wrestling families. Efron plays Kevin Von Erich, the eldest of the three sons. The sports biographical film, due to be released in the UK on 9 February 2024, has already received widespread praise from both critics and those within the wrestling community.

In preparation for The Iron Claw, Efron underwent a serious physical transformation. Speaking with Variety, the actor stated: “That necessity to be perfect—it became an obsession. It was a singular focus for months. And your life goes out the window during prep.”

The High School Musical star explained that he would work out for hours every day, starting with volume training to gain 15 pounds of muscle. “Then I was able to incorporate old-school bodybuilding and Olympic lifting, and really achieved that specific look of pro wrestlers, which was really hard,” Efron continued.

Efron also went on to state that he had a much healthier approach to working on his physique on this project, unlike the approach that was taken in preparation for the film 2017 production Baywatch. On that set, he overtrained and used diuretics (medicines that help reduce fluid buildup in the body), and has said the process led him into a depression: “I learned a lot over the course of Baywatch—I learned the hard way about not sacrificing my real health for a look on camera. I had the right questions to ask for this one.”

It’s undeniable that all of the actors in The Iron Claw put a serious shift in when it came to their physique. Fellow co-stars Jeremy Allen White and Harris Dickinson also reached peak fitness levels.

 

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During his interview with Variety, Efron also revealed that he has struggled quite a bit with the recent death of former 17 Again co-star Matthew Perry: “I hold the time we shared together really dear. I’ve been thinking about him a lot, every day. He was in a unique position for me in my career and in my life. His passing is affecting me a lot.

The two worked together on the film where Efron played Perry’s younger self. Perry passed away on 28 October 2023. After being found unresponsive in a hot tub at his Los Angeles home aged 54, a coroner has since confirmed that Perry’s death was an accident caused by the “acute effects of ketamine,” with contributing factors including drowning and coronary artery disease.

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