Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig on Why 'Heels' Is 'Unlike Anything' They've Done Before (Exclusive)
Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig are no strangers to big shows with wild costumes. However, their new Starz series, Heels, is giving them an opportunity to do something new and perhaps more exciting than anything they've done before.
Amell and Ludwig recently sat down with ET's Leanne Aguilera to dish on their new wrestling series and how it feels coming into the unique world of professional wrestling.
"To be able to wear a superhero suit is one thing, and it's incredibly cool," explained Amell, who played Green Arrow on The CW's Arrow for eight seasons. "But I never got to walk out to the Arrow theme music when I was on set."
"Whereas on Heels, we have our entrance music, and when it hits, and when the smoke machines go off, and all the extras in the Duffy Dome -- who were spectacular and really, really committed to the show in a variety of ways -- when they're booing and hissing... it's just a different feeling," he added. "It doesn't require a lot of acting. It really doesn't. Except for me where I've got this big smile inside, and this look of disdain outside."
"This whole experience with this show has been so tremendous," shared Ludwig. "Stephen and I fell in love with these scripts the second they were sent to us, and it's an actor's dream to get to play this, because it's limitless. This world is so colorful, and the second you put on these outfits, and you walk out into the ring, and as Stephen said, they're playing your music and the audience is cheering, you're there. You're in it."
Coming from the celebrated historical drama Vikings, Ludwig knows what it's like to be a part of something that people truly love and are excited for, and he explained how happy he is to be involved with a project that he feels satisfied with.
"It's just been truly just an incredible experience to be able to go from one show that you're really, really proud of to another," he said. "At the end of the day, we're storytellers, and it's just so great to tell a story that we're so proud of."
For Ludwig, wrestling was not something he'd had much experience with before production and he got the chance to work with life-long pros to learn the ropes.
"Basically, it's unlike anything I've ever done before," he shared. "It was, without a doubt, the most extensive training I've done for anything. And my respect for these men and women who literally put their lives on the line every single night to put on a show and provide for their families, is just tenfold since I began."
As it turns out, Ludwig also got the opportunity to involve his wife, Lauren, whom he wed back in January. However, he joked that getting her a small part in the show led to a bit of marital friction.
"My wife almost broke up with me," Ludwig joked. "Because with COVID, you can't bring people onto set. [So I thought], 'Okay. I'm going to sign her up as an extra, she'll get tested and she'll be able to come on set and see what we do.' She's never seen anything like this."
"Of course, it's a 14-hour day and she hates being in front of the camera," he continued. "She's like, 'I'm going to leave you if you do this again.'"
As for the show itself, despite being about the behind-the-scenes world of professional wrestling, Ludwig and Amell explained that you don't have to be a wrestling fan to appreciate and connect with Heels.
"You don't have to know a thing about wrestling to love this show. And I'm speaking as a fan. I didn't know a thing about wrestling, and I couldn't put the scripts down," Ludwig said. "I believe that the greatest shows out there, the greatest movies out there, you're dropped into a world where you can relate to characters. Who can't relate to working your ass off to put food on the table or wanting more out of life?"
"But you're also going to experience this incredible world. And if you don't know anything about it, you're going to learn a lot," he added.
"The guy who wrote the scripts and created the show, [Michael Waldron,] he lived this growing up and he drops you into a fully fleshed out, thought-about world," Amell chimed in. "You can love wrestling [or] you can not know anything about wrestling... but you'll get it. You'll get it right away."
Amell also spoke with ET's Matt Cohen about the differences when it came to training for his role on Arrow as opposed to Heels, and said the fitness and training regimen for his new show was "more all-encompassing."
"They built us a gymnasium on the sound stages and they did something that I'd asked for... which is I wanted them to bake in training to my overall schedule," he said. "So whereas before, if I had a 12-hour day, that might require 90 minutes, two hours of my own time to get to the gym, to work out, to shower afterwards and then get to set. Whereas if I had a 12-hour day on Heels, my day would start at 7 o'clock, but it'd start at the gym."
Also, unlike his role on Arrow, his costume as a professional wrestler on Heels was a bit more revealing and less forgiving when it came to his fitness routine.
"Nothing could be faked, right? There was no mood lighting and green leather to hide the fact that maybe you skipped leg day," Amell said. "It was all put out there, so you have to do everything."
Heels premieres Sunday, Aug. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.
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