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Jeremy Allen White recalls meeting Zac Efron during a group body shaving session

Jeremy Allen White has recalled the unusual circumstances under which he met Zac Efron while filming their forthcoming sports biopic, The Iron Claw.

The two co-star alongside Harris Dickinson in A24’s new drama about the inseparable Von Erich family – a real-life dynasty of wrestlers who were famous for the iron claw grappling move.

When it came time for the actors’ first wardrobe fitting and camera tests, they were “strangers”, The Bear breakout, 32, told Variety at a recent screening of the film.

“Now I know them and love them, but at the time, it was like, ‘Hi, nice to meet you and yes, they’re shaving off all of our body hair’,” White recalled. “Our bodies had to be completely shaved.”

“They shaved everything,” Dickinson, 27, clarified.

“It was incredible but we also looked ridiculous,” the Shameless alum remembered. “It was always smaller, always shorter. It was never, ‘Cover up their skin’.”

He added: “I don’t think any of us were confident in those first fittings. We were like, ‘We have a lot of work to do.’”

Zac Efron (right) in ‘The Iron Claw’ (A24)
Zac Efron (right) in ‘The Iron Claw’ (A24)

Efron, 36, portrays the second-oldest Von Erich son Kevin, and White and Dickinson play Kevin’s younger brothers, Kerry and David, respectively. Holt McCallany features as Kerry and Kevin’s father, three-time world champion Fritz Von Erich.

Lily James, Maura Tierney and Maxwell Jacob Friedman also star.

The movie, directed by Sean Durkin, follows the story of the Von Erichs and their impact on the sport of wrestling from the 1960s to today. As well as the triumphs, it will also explore the tragedies of the family, which included five of Fritz’s six sons dying before the age of 33 – three by suicide.

Images of Efron in costume wearing a muscle tee and denim cut-off shorts with his hair grown out and cut into a fringe were first leaked online in November 2022, leaving fans stunned.

Several couldn’t help but compare his appearance to Dreamworks’ animated villain Lord Farquaad from Shrek.

Efron, White and Dickinson each underwent incredible physical training to pack on muscle. White put on about 25 lbs of muscle, while Dickinson gained about 22.

Speaking about his physical transformation, White told Variety: “I joke about it but it’s true – I didn’t want to stand close to [Efron] while shooting the movie because it would make me look my size.

“But it’s hard because we play brothers. I do have to be around him. Although I tried to make Harris stand next to him most of the time.”

The Iron Claw will be released in US cinemas on 22 December and in UK cinemas on 9 February 2024.