The creator Michael Waldron (“Loki”) and the two main actors Stephen Amell (“Arrow”) and Alexander Ludwig (“Vikings”) evoke on our microphone the series on the world of wrestling “Heels”, to be discovered on Starzplay!
What wrestling fan are you?
Michael Waldron (creator of the Heels series): I am a very big fan, as a child I was even obsessed with the world of wrestling. I was drawn to the image of these heroes versus villains, these were epic stories that impressed me a lot at the time.
Another aspect that I liked a lot was the soap opera narrative of the wrestling shows, because the history of other shows that I was watching at the time – like Power Rangers etc. – did not follow each other over the weeks. So I had the feeling that I was following real issues, and that the characters were more developed than in the other series.
Alexander Ludwig (Ace Spade): I was a wrestling fan when I was little, although I also didn’t watch shows every week. But it’s true that when I stumbled upon a wrestling episode, I watched with great pleasure, especially to follow superstars like Edge and The Rock in WWE. Which is ironic, because I ended up working with them on the Vikings series and the movie The Bewitched Mountain. Adam Copeland (aka the wrestler Edge, editor’s note) also gave me a lot of advice when I joined the project.
Stephen Amell (Jack Spade): I started watching wrestling between the end of kindergarten and the start of elementary school. Around 1986 I started to obsess over WWF (now called WWE, editor’s note) until the mid-90s, the passion subsided for a few years before returning with a bang. And then, I got interested in wrestling again in recent years by meeting wrestlers, and having the chance to participate in WWE shows.
The world of wrestling works in a binary way: there are the good guys on one side, and the bad guys on the other. In Heels, the subject is more nuanced because each of the characters is both the good guy in the story, but also the bad guy.
Michael Waldron: That’s what we wanted to do with this series. It is this aspect of the story that interested me. In a ring, it is effectively a binary division: either you are the good one, or you are the bad one. But in the real world, things are not that simple. And maybe it’s this desire to simplify things in life that drives these guys to become wrestlers.
This kind of guy doesn’t come into the ring to be encouraged, but to be booed.
Stephen Amell: I love it when a wrestler heel (villain in the world of wrestling, editor’s note) is so good at his performance that the audience starts to cheer him on; and if he’s really good, he won’t hesitate to insult the crowd to make people hate him. This kind of guy doesn’t come into the ring to be encouraged, but to be booed.
His personal interest is the only thing that matters to him, and he doesn’t give a damn about the expectations of the public! But by seeking to be hated, his popularity side will continue to climb. Wrestling fans place a great deal of importance on the attitude of the wrestlers, and the work they are willing to do to ensure a quality show that justifies the price of the admission ticket.
Can we consider wrestlers as real world superheroes?
Alexander Ludwig: Oh yes, absolutely! What they do physically, and the fact that they still manage to stand up after all of this effort, is absolutely amazing. I have always had respect for this universe, but I must say that I have even more respect for wrestlers since I shot this series.
Playing on the show has been a physical and athletic challenge for me, but these guys are capable of producing those performances throughout the year. It was really important for us to be as authentic as possible, and to work as hard as possible, in order to honor their work.
The very archetype of the superhero
Stephen Amell: That’s a very good question, and the answer is yes! The fact that we embody a character in the ring, that we wear a costume to slip into the role and that a music accompanies our entry under the encouragement or the boos – sometimes both at the same time – of the public , it is the archetype of the superhero!
Jack Spade is a wrestling promoter, as well as a husband and father, but when he enters the ring he becomes the biggest badass around! His character has nothing to do with who he really is in life. It’s like a kind of superhero double-identity. This is a situation that I experienced well in the Arrow series.
Playing Oliver Queen is one thing, but donning the Green Arrow costume completely changes the dynamic of the character. It’s the same feeling I get when I play Jack Space, and when he puts on his wrestling boots and tights.