The Greatest Beer Run Ever: Is Zac Efron's new film based on a true story and where was it filmed?

The Greatest Beer Run is set to hit screens but Zac Efron fans are wondering is it based on real life events

The Greatest Beer Run Ever
(Image credit: AppleTV+)

The Greatest Beer Run Ever is being tipped for an Oscar nomination even before it's been released and Zac Efron fans ask is it based on a true story and where was it filmed?

Zac Efron has stepped into the shoes of an American former United States Marine, merchant seaman and trade unionist for his latest film offering which sees him play the role of Chickie Donohue. 

To show support for his neighbourhood friends serving in Vietnam, Chickie Donohue  decides to do something totally outrageous: travel to the frontline by himself to bring the soldiers a little piece of home - their favourite can of American beer. 

But what started as a well-meaning journey quickly turns into the adventure of a lifetime as Chickie confronts the reality of this controversial war and his reunions with his childhood buddies thrust him into the complexities and responsibilities of adulthood. 

Whether you're a fan of book adaptations like Where The Crawdad's Sing and Bridgerton, we look a if it's based on a true story and uncover the filming locations...

Is the Greatest Beer Run Ever based on a true story?

Yes, The Greatest Beer Run ever is based on an incredible true story and is an adaptation of the book of the same name, The Greatest Beer Run Ever by Joanna Molloy and John 'Chickie' Donohue. It's described as a heartfelt coming-of-age tale about friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. Chickie Donohue (played by Zac Efron) is best known for his 1968 journey through Vietnam where he delivered beer to several United States service members during the height of the Vietnam War. 

In 1967, John Donohue was a 26-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran working as a merchant seaman when he was challenged one night in a New York City bar. The men gathered had lost family and friends in the ongoing war in Vietnam. One friend proposed an idea many might deem preposterous: one of them should sneak into Vietnam, track down their buddies in combat, and give each of them messages of support from back home, maybe some laughs, and beer.

The American biographical action comedy film is co-written and directed by Peter Farrelly and stars Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, and Bill Murray.

The real Chickie Donohue gathered alongside other real-life stars and cast and crew who worked behind The Greatest Beer Run Ever at Toronto International Film Festival this week to watch the film and to reflect on the unbelievable true story.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever - where was it filmed?

The Greatest Beer Run Ever was filmed between Thailand and New Jersey. Filming started back in September 2021 and it has since wrapped. Speaking about filming, Zac said, "There’s some added value in taking it seriously. At the front of your mind is definitely the importance of portraying the character so that Chickie himself will enjoy it and that it's something that his family would enjoy and be proud of and that's honest and truthful by their accounts. That becomes very, very important.”

The Greatest Beer Run Ever releases on Apple TV+ on September 30th 2022.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is currently a Senior Entertainment Writer for, formerly Senior Entertainment writer for Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life and has more than 16 years of experience in newspapers, magazines and online. She currently writes a mix of Entertainment news - including celebrity births, weddings and reality show line-ups including Strictly, Dancing On Ice and The Great British Bake Off, reporting the the latest news about the Royal kids Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet as well as Family news stories from baby names to store closures and product recall warnings. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.