‘Heels’ Cast Promises The Starz Premiere Is Worth The Wait
From the mind of Loki creator Michael Waldron, Heels is a classic tale of rival brotherhood with a niche twist. The upcoming Starz series follows two brothers struggling to preserve their late father and support their families the only way they know how to: professional wrestling.
In the world of the Duffy Wrestling League (DWL), Jack Spade plays the villain character—dubbed the “heel”—and his younger brother, Ace Spade, plays the hero—dubbed the “face.” Stephen Amell (Arrow, Code 8) portrays Jack while Alexander Ludwig (Vikings, The Hunger Games) portrays Ace, and that’s just the start of this star-studded cast. Actress Kelli Berglund, Broadway star Alison Luff, and NFL Superbowl Champion James Harrison also bring their own talents to the show.
After a private screening of the pilot in New York this week, the cast and executive producers Mike O’Malley and Peter Segal did a panel to discuss everything Heels and why audiences should tune in.
For starters, everybody seemed excited about the script. “It’s a rich story clearly written by someone who loves this world,” Amell said, recalling reading the script right at the end of Arrow. Unsurprisingly, he stated that the arena, the Duffy Dome, is the coolest set he’s been on. Amell is no stranger to the ring. A certified professional wrestler himself, Amell is 2-1 in the ring and has outspokenly shared his love for the sport whenever possible. When asked who in the cast did the most research, he swiftly answered, “Six-year-old me.”
Professional wrestling is unchartered territory for other members of the cast though. Ludwig said he had to do a lot of research himself and often relied on actor Adam Copeland, better known as WWE Champion Edge, for advice. “What is so exciting about this world, as an actor, [is that] it’s limitless,” he said on what he’s learned so far. “I have so much respect for this world now.”
But Heels isn’t just about wrestling, the cast assured. Luff, who plays Jack’s wife, Stacy, said that it was the heart of the story that drew her in. She recalls that she connected to her character as the type of woman “that I repress a lot and admire a lot” throughout her life.
Harrison, on the other hand, felt that his first acting gig wasn’t that foreign to him. “Being an NFL player for 15 years, I’m used to bringing that devastation,” explained the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year linebacker. He explained that his character, Apocalypse—a name he came up with himself—embodies the hard-hitting, no-nonsense force that he’s known for on the field and puts it into the ring, something he acknowledged most professional wrestlers do.
And a show about professional wrestling would be incomplete without professional wrestlers. The producers confirmed that former WWE superstars Mick Foley and Philip Brooks, better known as CM Punk, have cameos in the first season and Dave Bautista is more than likely to make an appearance in the next.
The story of production is exciting as well, though that’s something you don’t want to be as interesting. One of the first Starz productions to go back during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, production was stinted by around 4-5 cast members getting the virus. As if that wasn’t a big enough obstacle, Amell said that he suffered an impression fracture doing one of his first stunts, a monumental coast-to-coast where wrestlers get on the rope and jump across the ring to body slam their opponent. They had to halt shooting the scene (which you can see in the thrilling trailer), for a couple of months.
Fortunately, this is all in the past, and the cast and crew have overcome these unique hardships to show us what they’ve been working on so diligently.