The Iron Claw director recalls Kevin Von Erich's reaction to cutting out fifth brother
Sean Durkin decided not to include Chris Von Erich in the wrestling drama about a true-life tragedy.
While wrestling film The Iron Claw is very much based on a true story, there are a few notable areas where it deviates from the real account of the Von Erich family – most prominently by cutting one of the brothers out of the film.
The drama – which has just arrived in UK cinemas – stars Zac Efron, Harris Dickinson, Jeremy Allen White and relative newcomer Stanley Simons as four brothers who dominated the world of wrestling in the '80s before a series of awful events ripped the family apart.
However, the film decides to leave out a fifth brother – Chris Von Erich – who tragically died by suicide at the age of just 21 in 1991, with writer/director Sean Durkin having explained that it wouldn't have been possible to tell the entire story.
In an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com, Durkin reiterated his reasons for making that decision and revealed how Kevin Von Erich – the only surviving brother – reacted when he was informed Chris would not be included in the film.
"It was very painful to come to terms with and took about a year to take him out," he explained. "But it was the right decision to basically move the script from being a script that wasn't working into a film.
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"And it wasn't just not working because of so much tragedy. It also just wasn't working on a character level, attention level focus, you know, it allowed it to find its sort of best self."
He continued: "That was a thing where I think had I been in touch with Kevin [when writing the script], I think it might have been even harder for me to make that [decision] because I would have felt like I would have to consult with him on it.
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"But at the same time, when I finally told Kevin, I was so worried about telling him that Chris wasn't in it, he didn't even flinch. He was like, 'Yeah, I understand.'"
Durkin also explained why else he made the choice not to speak to Kevin until after he had finished work on the script, explaining that he "didn't want to sort of love Kevin too much so that it would cloud decision-making".
He added: "I felt like I could do that because there was so much out there, there were so many interviews he had given and there was so much available that I could draw from.
"So I sort of didn't need to speak to him in that sense, and then just wanted that space."