Chavo Guerrero Jr. On Turning The Cast Of The Iron Claw Into Wrestlers - Exclusive

When he took on the job of wrestling coordinator for the new movie "The Iron Claw," retired wrestler Chavo Guerrero Jr. had one overriding task: making actors Zac Efron, Harris Dickinson, Jeremy Allen White, and (to a lesser extent Stanley Simons) look formidable and believable in the ring. The four were cast to play Kevin, David, Kerry, and Mike Von Erich, respectively, four members of the legendary Texas-based Von Erich wrestling clan.

While each of the actors embarked on their own personal training regimens before filming began on writer-director Sean Durkin's movie, it was up to Guerrero to teach them the basics and much more of wrestling: how to get into the ring, how to fall, how to bump their opponents, and many other tactics of a sport that, while highly stylized and theatrical, can be brutal on the human body.

"Anytime I get an actor in the ring, it's different," Guerrero said in an exclusive Wrestling Inc. interview when asked how the quartet responded to their training. "A good teacher always adapts their teaching to their student. These aren't my students — I'm training them to look like wrestlers in wrestling scenes. These are actors, these are grown men that A24 and Sean Durkin are trusting me to train them and be safe."

Nevertheless, even though none of the actors had experience in the ring before, Guerrero says that all four came prepared to work: "It's not like I have to get them motivated and say, 'Come on guys, let's get in the ring. Let's stop talking,'" he explained. "No, these guys are ready to work. They're here for a reason. That really made my job a lot easier. And every one of them surprised me every single day. Every time we'd get in the ring, they'd be doing something different that I didn't know that they could do."

Each actor had a different way of approaching his training

Chavo Guerrero Jr.'s training program for the four young stars of "The Iron Claw" not only taught them how to look and move like real wrestlers, but also forged a bond among the actors that comes across as both brotherly love and friendly sibling rivalry. But Guerrero notes that each actor had his own approach to learning the moves inside the ring.

"Jeremy Allen White would almost sit in the corner for a second and kind of visualize it and visualize and visualize," Guerrero said. "And he'd be like, 'Okay, I'm ready.' Zac? I would walk through things with Zac [and he'd be like] 'Okay, let's do this.' Everybody's different how they do it, but they all get the job done. And if you see the movie, these guys are amazing and they look like they're pro wrestlers."

Guerrero added that he thinks the actors came out of the experience of making "The Iron Claw" with, if not a newfound respect for wrestling, a deeper knowledge of just what it takes to become a successful performer inside the ring.

"I mean, not that they didn't respect it before, they just didn't know a whole lot about it," the former ECW World Champion and WWE Tag Team Champion said. "Now they're like, 'Wow, we didn't realize.' Jeremy said it the best, I think. He said, 'It's almost the things you do in between the moves that mean the most.' I said, 'Absolutely.' I would tell these guys, 'Moves don't make a wrestler great. It's the things they do in between that makes a good wrestler, a great wrestler.'"

"The Iron Claw" is out now in theaters.

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