Heels: Stephen Amell & Alexander Ludwig on Making a Love Letter to Professional Wrestling - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 15, 2021

Heels: Stephen Amell & Alexander Ludwig on Making a Love Letter to Professional Wrestling

From creator Michael Waldron (Loki creator and head writer), the Starz drama series Heels follows brothers and small-town pro wrestling rivals Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) and Ace Spade (Alexander Ludwig). In the ring, there are very clearly defined roles of the good guy, also known as the face, and the bad guy, or the heel, but as the two battle over their late father’s legacy, they realize that the lines are far more blurry in their own lives.

During this virtual interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, co-stars Amell and Ludwig talked about their goal with the show, the appeal of these characters, just how difficult the stunts are to do, what these brothers most admire and are most envious of with each other, how they feel about spandex now, and which real wrestler they’d each like to have do a guest spot on the show.

Collider: Thank you for making a show about wrestling that even I, as someone who only knows the basics, can enjoy. I appreciate that.

STEPHEN AMELL: Thank you.

I am fully of the belief that genre doesn’t matter, if you tell a great story with great characters in a full world, and I feel like watching the show really proves that.

ALEXANDER LUDWIG: Amen. I’m so happy to hear you say that. I think we all felt the same way when we read the scripts. At the end of the day, the heart of any great story comes down to character.

Stephen, because you came to the show as such a fan of wrestling yourself, was your bar set that much higher, for what you wanted it to be and what you wanted it to continue to evolve into?

AMELL: From an evolutionary perspective, I haven’t even thought about that. We’re still trying to bring the first season to the world. My goal, after meeting the scripts, was to just put what was on the page, on the screen, in the way that I saw it in my mind’s eye, and I think we did that. I think that we’ve created a really rich world that is a love letter to professional wrestling and the men and women who do it, removed from the spotlight and the glitz and the glamour of WWE or AEW. It’s shining a light on a really important and integral part of professional wrestling that not a lot of people know about. I think we did a good job, but time will tell.

RELATED: 'Heels' Review: Big Men Have Bigger Feelings In This Addictive Wrestling Soap Opera

Alexander, what made you want to take on Ace? What was it about him, as a character, that made him appealing to you? Was it the fact that he’s so flawed?

LUDWIG: Absolutely. You hit it on the head. I’m so happy to hear this because I hear this, time and time again, “I don’t know a lot about wrestling, but I love this show,” and I agree. At the heart of any story is characters that you can see yourself in. Who can’t relate to busting their ass to put food on the table for their family, or wanting more to life. Why I loved Ace so much and I was so grateful that when the offer had come in, is because this is a character I’ve wanted to play my whole life. This guy, I see myself in him in so many different ways. He’s just an explosive personality in comparison. He’s just an elevated version of these emotions that I’ve felt, for sure. I just loved what a roller coaster of emotions he is. When you take a character who’s so colorful, and then put them in a world that’s even more colorful, you’re onto something really, really special.

You’ve both come off of shows that were really physical, with Arrow and Vikings. How does the physicality and the stunt work that you have to do on Heels compare to what you’ve done previously? Did any of your past work prepare you for this, or is this very different?

AMELL: Nothing prepares you for professional wrestling. It’s a one of one experience. Nothing prepares you for hitting the ropes. Nothing prepares you for that first time you get in the middle of the ring and they go, “All right, fall down.” You’re like, “What?!” And they said, “Fall down, hit the mat hard, except don’t get up with a concussion.” There are so many tricks and things that you can do. Alexander on Vikings, with that wardrobe and the big battle scenes, and the utilization of doubles and stunt doubles and stuff like that, and same for me, with an Arrow suit, a hood and a mask on, there’s no hiding in the wrestling ring. It is an incredibly unique experience. Before anyone comments on it, they should just do those two things in the wrestling ring and see how it feels.

LUDWIG: I got my bell rung. The first time I hit those ropes and I did a flat back bump, I was just like, “Whoa, there’s nothing fake about this, except for the storylines,” and even that can go haywire. What’s so exciting about the show is that you get to explore that. What happens when you don’t follow the storylines that are set forth? It’s a live performance, but at the end of the day, the athleticism that’s required for your body to withstand such abuse is incredible. I trained more for this than I have for anything, and this was certainly the most physically demanding. As Stephen said, there’s no faking this. We did all the stunts. We had an incredible stunt team that came in and educated us and was there when we needed them, but I would say 90% of this, we ended up having to do. We needed to do right by the wrestling community. I have such huge respect for them because, let me tell you, after five to 10 minutes in that ring, I am heaving. I can’t imagine 40 minutes in the ring. And they’re doing it night after night after night, hundreds of days out of the year. It’s just unbelievable.

Since brothers love and hate each other, what do your characters most admire about each other and what are they most envious about with each other?

AMELL: I think Jack is probably jealous of Ace’s hair. And I think the thing that he probably hates about him most is his wardrobe. He’s probably like, “Ace, really? Jerseys? You’re a grown man. Get it together.”

LUDWIG: I think Ace, when he looks at Jack, he sees this macro mindset. If you’re gonna put this in into terms of people that actually live, Jack is on his way to becoming Vince McMahon, and Ace is on his way to becoming Shawn Michaels. Whether or not that happens, is up to the storyline. Jack has such a macro sense, whereas Ace is so impulsive and emotional that sometimes he just sees red and he can’t see beyond that.

Do you guys feel like you hit a very brotherly groove with each other pretty quickly?

AMELL: Yeah, Alexander’s my dude. We got along straight away, when we started working together. I think both of us have experience, appreciate and understand that there’s no easy way to do a TV show. You’ve gotta come to work every day, you’ve gotta know your shit, you have to be prepared, and you have to be what your scene partner needs you to be, whatever that is.

LUDWIG: That was both of our mindset. We both knew we had to give our all, to earn the respect of the wrestling community. Regardless, I don’t have to like you on a film set, and Stephen’s the same way. Just show up and do your shit. The fact that I loved Stephen was just incredible. There was an element to this that really blew me away that I didn’t expect, and that was the trust that you have to have in another actor, when you’re doing these stunts. If I’m suplexing Stephen, or in reverse, we need to make sure that we’re not gonna drop each other on our heads. That bond carried outside of the ring. Stephen’s family to me, and he always will be.

How do you guys feel about spandex now? Do you have a new appreciation for spandex? Do you have a deep hatred for spandex?

AMELL: I’ve stopped skipping leg day. No skipping leg day. I’ve always loved it, and frankly, I’ve been looking for an excuse to wear it more often, so I’m good. Bring it on.

It seems like it will raise the expectations for Halloween.

LUDWIG: That’s when you know you’ve made it, you’ve got a bunch of people on Halloween dressing up in spandex. Our costume designer, Laura Bauer, was just phenomenal on this. Once you put all that stuff on and you enter the ring, you really feel like you’re in the world.

Is there a real wrestler that either one of you or both of you would like to have come to a guest spot on the show?

LUDWIG: I’ve been begging Adam Copeland. He’s a friend of mine and he’s one of the greatest heals of all time. He’s in the hall of fame. I leaned on him a lot, in preparation for this. He was Edge. I’ve been like, “Adam, man, we’ve gotta have you on the show. We’d be so lucky to have you.” So, hopefully, if this continues, I would love for him to come on.

AMELL: Well, we’re not paying him anything. Give me Becky Lynch. I’d love to have Becky Lynch on the show.

Heels airs on Sunday nights on Starz.



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