A Minute With: Sean Durkin on curses and the tragic, true story of ‘The Iron Claw’

By Thomson Reuters Feb 8, 2024 | 10:32 AM

By Hanna Rantala

LONDON (Reuters) – Writer and director Sean Durkin brings the triumphs, trials and tribulations of Texan wrestling family the Von Erichs to the screen with “The Iron Claw”, with Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White in its ensemble cast.

The five Von Erich brothers, led by the patriarch Fritz Von Erich, were successful professional wrestlers in the 1980s. Alongside their accomplishments, the family was struck by several tragedies, leading them to believe they were cursed. The film centres on the sole surviving brother, Kevin.

In an interview with Reuters, Durkin talked about telling their story.

Below are excerpts edited for length and clarity.

Q: Why did you want to tell this story and what were the questions you asked yourself while writing it?”

Durkin: “I was a fan of theirs as a kid. When I started looking at it as a film, I realised there was this sort of epic Greek tragedy. It was filled with so many things I’m interested in, both this notion of a family curse hanging over them, this great camaraderie, this brotherly love and these trappings of masculinity and how dangerous those can be.”

Q: “How did you balance the real with cinematic storytelling needs and decide what to include, what to leave out?”

Durkin: “There was too much tragedy to include, so there’s so much that didn’t make it. It just had to be about Kevin’s survival and Kevin’s story. The script was written when I started talking to him but there was certainly a colour that he gave it, an energy and love the way he talks about his brothers.”

Q: How authentic are the wrestling scenes?

Durkin: “As a fan, I know that if you don’t get it right, the wrestling community is going to take you down. I really wanted to get it right and brought in a great trainer, Chavo Guerrero, who trained the guys. And, yeah, we just kept saying ‘the level has to be the highest level’.”

Q: Having spent several years immersing yourself in this story, do you believe in the family curse?

Durkin: “I don’t believe in curses but I believe in the psychology of a curse. And I believe that if you come from a family where a lot of bad things have happened, if bad things start to happen to you, I think it’s quite normal to start to think that it’ll continue. So, it’s not that there’s actually a curse, but it’s a psychological effect that you’re going to follow in a trend that has been affecting your family. And so that’s what I wanted the film to look at, was this subjective psychological state that Kevin goes into to start to believe that he was sort of destined to have the same things happen.”

(Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Andrew Heavens)