Jeremy Allen White was just as shocked as the rest of the world when he saw costar Zac Efron’s physical transformation for their film The Iron Claw.
White, 32, shared his initial reaction to Efron’s muscular physique at the Los Angeles premiere of the A24 sports drama.
“He’s so annoying,” White joked at the Monday, December 11, screening while speaking to Variety. “I had been training for months, lifting, doing this and doing that and eating more and I showed up and I saw him and I’m like, ‘What is this even for? Why do I even try?’”
The star also gushed that Efron, 36, acted as the “captain of the ship” on set. “He was a great motivator with his preparation physically, all the preparation he did emotionally and mentally,” White said. “I look up to that guy.”
Efron’s dramatic transformation to play professional wrestling champion Kevin Von Erich made headlines when set photos emerged in October 2022. In the film, which chronicles the rise and fall of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty, White plays Kevin’s brother Kerry Von Erich, while Harris Dickinson stars as Kevin and Kerry’s brother David Von Erich.
“It was shocking at every point of the transformation,” Efron told Entertainment Tonight last month. “I remember Harris and I were walking out of hair and makeup and it was the first time we had to wear the full kit, and we were both thinking, ‘What the hell are we doing here, man? How did we get into this?’”
Efron added that the end result looked “really good” and commended the hair and makeup teams for helping him and his costars transform into the Von Erich brothers. Efron also shouted out the real-life Kevin, now 66, who he said “really motivated me to get in shape for this movie.”
“The physicality he brought to the ring every single day was really unique. It changed wrestling,” Efron continued. “I knew that was going to be the hardest [thing] for me to master and get right. So, I put everything I had into it.”
The High School Musical alum also underwent a drastic physical transformation for 2017’s Baywatch and later revealed that he struggled with his intense diet and exercise regime for the role.
“I started to develop insomnia, and I fell into a pretty bad depression for a long time,” he told Men’s Health in October 2022. “Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recentering.”
“That Baywatch look, I don’t know if that’s really attainable,” he admitted. “There’s just too little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake. It looks CGI’d. And that required Lasix, powerful diuretics, to achieve. So, I don’t need to do that.”
The Iron Claw hits theaters on Friday, December 22.