'Iron Claw' Star Holt McCallany Shares His Process Behind Playing Fritz Von Erich

Holt McCallany is set to star as Fritz Von Erich — patriarch of the Von Erich family — in the upcoming "The Iron Claw" biopic written and directed by Sean Durkin. Fritz is one of wrestling's most storied names, a record 20-time NWA United States Champion and owner of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory. A student of fellow family patriarch Stu Hart, Fritz was a notoriously strict — some have said abusive — role model for his sons Kevin, Kerry, and David Von Erich. During "Josh Nason's Punch-Out" for Wrestling Observer, McCallany explained why he saw him in a different light. 

"I think Fritz Von Erich was a warrior who was motivated by love. By the love for his family," said McCallany, "I think he is a man that genuinely loved his sons and took tremendous pride in their accomplishments. You'll hear people say some very disparaging things about Fritz, and you'll hear people say that he was controlling, that he exploited public tragedy for personal gain, and all these other kinds of criticisms. People have a lot of critical things to say about Fritz Von Erich. I did not choose to see him in that way."

McCallany explained that he conducted thorough research on his counterpart, watching the way he interacted with his sons, and was left with the impression that Fritz was a family man. He believed that Fritz not only took tremendous pride in their success, but was willing to do anything in his power to help them achieve it. McCallany admitted that he understands the other interpretation of Fritz's actions, but reasoned that there was a method to the madness. "Not all of Fritz's decisions were good decisions ... I think what motivated those decisions, as I said, was a love for his family and a tremendous desire for his sons to be as successful as they possibly could."