You may have heard that independent film powerhouse A24 is making a movie about the Von Erichs, the dynasty that once dominated the old World Class Championship Wrestling promotion, operating out of the long-demolished Sportatorium near downtown Dallas. They once ruled the rings of Texas, getting rock-band popular in the 1980s before tragedy struck and didn’t stop striking until it had wiped out almost the entire family.
The Von Erichs were already seemingly cursed when we put brothers Kerry and Kevin on the cover, along with their dad Fritz, in February 1988; the cover headline was “Tragic Empire.” By the time Skip Hollandsworth wrote the accompanying story, three of Fritz’s boys had died. Two more (Kerry and Chris, the youngest) would take their own lives in the next few years. Only Kevin remains. (His sons have followed him into the business.)
Anyway, back to the movie, which has a great title (The Iron Claw, named after the family’s signature submission hold), a writer-director (Sean Durkin, known for 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene), and a star (Zac Efron, certainly jacked enough to play a professional wrestler). Efron is on board to play Kevin Von Erich, and that seems like a good match of actor and part, at least in the abstract. But who knows? He may put on some ridiculous accent and kick this whole thing in the jeans. It happens a lot. An actor makes a choice and it jerks the wheel right into a ditch.
Anyway, today Deadline has announced two new additions to the cast. Harris Dickinson, who I know best from The King’s Man, so that’s the credit I’ll list, has been tapped to play David Von Erich, who died under mysterious circumstances during a tour of Japan. Dickinson is big and rangy and that feels about right for David, who was kind of like a steer wrestler had donned tights and decided to take on humans. I remember he often wore a cowboy hat to the ring. So, good deal there.
The other new cast member has me both excited and curious. Jeremy Allen White will play Kerry Von Erich. I loved White in The Bear, and if you haven’t seen it, please get on that. He is a fantastic actor, one of those guys who can say about 1,000 words with a glance, a gesture. Now, I wouldn’t say White is scrawny. He’s wiry. Got some muscle on his arms. But he’s a lean 5-foot-7, and honestly looks a little smaller than that. This, if you are not familiar, is Kerry Von Erich. He was 6-foot-2 and built like a defensive end.
When I saw the name, I thought surely White had been hired to play Mike, the doomed brother who didn’t look much like a wrestler to begin with, even before a freak illness sapped his strength. But no, White is playing Kerry, who looked like if Bojack Horseman discovered creatine. I think it’s weird, but I have to admit I’m fascinated to see how he pulls it off!