Jeremy Allen White 'Didn't Want to Stand Near' Zac Efron on “Iron Claw” Set: 'I'm A Pretty Little Guy'

'The Bear' star pumped iron to get in shape to play Kerry Von Erich in 'The Iron Claw' alongside Efron

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty, Devin Yalkin/A24</p>

Kevin Mazur/Getty, Devin Yalkin/A24

Jeremy Allen White may play the Texas Tornado in The Iron Claw, but in real life, he wasn’t sure he could physically match the iconic wrestler — especially alongside his buff costar Zac Efron.

The film, written and directed by Sean Durkin, tells the story of the Von Erich family who made history in wrestling in the 1960s, though tragedy followed them, leaving Kevin (Efron) as the only son of six to survive past the age of 34.

White, 32, stars as the late Kerry Von Erich while Harris Dickinson and Stanley Simons star as David and Mike Von Erich respectively.

Related: Zac Efron Jokes His Ego Was Bruised Filming Iron Claw in a Speedo: 'This Is Magic Mike!'



Efron, 36, and White both bulked up for the film, they shared at a New York City Q&A at the East Coast premiere of the movie, but it was Efron’s physique that blew crowds away in teasers and photos.

“Yeah, I didn’t want to stand near Zac. I saw him and I went, ‘Can Harris [Dickinson] stand next to him?'” White joked at the premiere. “No, I mean, Zac looked so amazing and I think, yeah, just being around him was a motivator for me to eat more, train more.”

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The Bear star added that he didn’t believe it would be “physically possible” for him to transform into Kerry, considering his own smaller physique.

“I knew I couldn’t get as big as Kerry. I just don’t think it was physically possible for me,” White said. “I’m a pretty little guy, but I tried. I don’t think it’s possible for any human on the planet.”

He continued that even iconic wrestlers like Arnold Schwarzenegger were intimidated by the wrestler’s body, meaning he didn’t have too much of a chance.

“There is this story I love about Schwarzenegger,” White shared. “Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kerry were in the same room once, and Kerry popped his shirt off and Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was too nervous to take his shirt off around Kerry. That’s how big this man was. We were all trying.”

Related: Zac Efron Says Iron Claw Costars Pranked Him by Singing High School Musical Songs on Set: 'Fun Days'

<p>Eric Chakeen/A24</p>

Eric Chakeen/A24

Efron joked that while “it wasn’t [writer/director] Sean’s personal training” that helped him and the rest of the cast gain muscle, they did put in the work to try to mimic the wrestlers’ bodies by constantly “pumping iron” between takes and in their downtime on set.

To practice as authentically as possible, production shipped in real '80s equipment and within two weeks, Efron, White and Dickinson were filming "full matches" in front of real crowds, Durkin said.

Efron elaborated that for his role, the Baywatch star watched videos of Kevin’s performance in the ring, attempting to mimic his choreography and “unique” physicality.

“I knew that going into it, physically relating to Kevin or being able to get into that shape, to do that, you have to become kind of obsessed. It takes over your life,” Efron said. “That’s all you’re doing is eating, sleeping, training and wrestling. That’s what they were doing in real life. [In] the prep for this movie, we all started hanging out in the ring, but really our lives outside of that were kind of nonexistent, and that that really helped me figure out Kevin’s mindset.”

The Iron Claw is in theaters Dec. 22.

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