“The Iron Claw” revolves around Von Erich family, a dynasty of professional wrestlers who made history in the intensely competitive sport in the early 1980s. Based on a true story, the A24 drama features Von Erich brothers Kevin (Zac Efron), David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) and Mike (Stanley Simons). One brother, however, was omitted from the film altogether: Chris Von Erich.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, “Iron Claw” filmmaker Sean Durkin explained why he decided not to include the youngest Von Erich, who also wrestled but struggled to match his brothers’ success due to his asthma and brittle bone condition. He died by suicide in 1991 at age 21.
“There was a repetition to it, and it was one more tragedy that the film couldn’t really withstand,” Durkin said of a version that included all five brothers. “I honestly don’t know if it would have gotten made.”
The pro-wrestling family was plagued with a series of tragedies that became known as the “Von Erich curse”: David died suddenly in 1984 at age 25, and both Mike and Kerry died by suicide in 1987 and 1993 respectively. These deaths are seen through the eyes of Kevin, the sole surviving Von Erich brother, in “The Iron Claw.”
“Chris was in the script for five years,” Durkin said, adding that Chris was “an impossible choice” that he fought against for a while.
Durkin also decided not to contact Kevin until he finished writing his script.
“When you’re trying to get a film made, you have to separate it at some point and say, ‘These are characters on a page, and this is a film, and there’s no way you’re going to fully capture the life of a person in a film,’” Durkin explained. “You have to make difficult choices to try and get to something truthful or representative or emotional that reflects the core of the journey you’re choosing to tell within this family.”
“The Iron Claw” is currently in theaters.