For A24's upcoming biopic, The Iron Claw, Zac completely changed into legendary pro-wrestler Kevin Von Erich.
At the Dallas premiere of the new movie, the 36-year-old actor spoke to Entertainment Tonight about what it took to undergo this "shocking" transformation, and I'm not surprised.
You probably know that Zac's had a long career of transformations and taking on demanding character roles of real-life people.
In 2022, he looked like the hot dad from Inside Out while working on The Greatest Beer Run Ever, where he played real-life former Marine John "Chickie" Donohue.
In 2019, off-screen Zac went through this bleach phase to look anything not like real-life serial killer Ted Bundy, whom he portrayed in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
These roles demanded that Zac immerse himself into real-life characters, and the Greatest Showman star is back at it again with The Iron Claw.
"This movie's a true story, and that man, Kevin Von Erich right there, he really motivated me to get in shape for this movie," he said, referencing the actual Kevin who was at the premiere.
The real Kevin is a member of the Von Erich pro-wrestling dynasty. The World Class Championship Wrestling family included patriarch, coach, and former wrestler Fritz Von Erich (played by Holt McCallany), and his five sons. In the ring, they became legends, but outside, they faced severe personal and mental health issues. Kevin, now the only surviving brother, continues the legacy with his children.
The film tells the story of 4/5 of the brothers: Kevin (Zac), David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), and Mike (Stanley Simons). Director Sean Durkin explained that the youngest brother, Chris Von Erich, isn't included "to keep the film's length manageable."
For Zac to step into this role, he had to undergo serious training, which is familiar to him if you remember what he went through for his role in the 2017 Baywatch movie. "The physicality he brought to the ring every single day was really unique. It changed wrestling," Zac said. "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."
Beyond the athletic change, Zac became unrecognizable with that new hairdo and 1980s aesthetic. "It was shocking at every point of the transformation," he added. "I remember Harris [Dickinson] and I were walking out of hair and makeup, and it was like 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?'"
"But I think it ended up looking really good, and we had a great crew helping us out with that," Zac said. "The hair and makeup team was epic."
From the looks of the trailer, this might be one of the few roles that call upon the culmination of Zac's entire career of dramatic transformations into real-life characters. This evolution of character roles is precisely what we should expect as Zac matures as an actor. It feels gritty, honest, and emotional — and I can't wait.
Check out the trailer for A24's wrestling biopic here.
The Iron Claw will be in theaters on Dec. 22.