The last time we checked in with Stephen Amell (Arrow) it was March, and he was confirming something about his upcoming pro-wrestling drama series for STARZ that we had all feared: production on Heels was shut down over the growing COVID-19 pandemic. "I was getting ready to shoot my new show Heels and that's been put on hold indefinitely. That's frustrating because I was getting excited," Amell revealed during an Instagram Live chat. "We've got an amazing cast. It's going to be awesome. But for the moment my training has stopped."
Understandably, words like "indefinitely" make us a little nervous because Heels sounds like something that could continue the mainstreaming of professional wrestling in much the same way that Netflix's GLOW does. Thankfully, it now looks like "indefinitely" won't translate into "permanently" if we're reading into Amell's tweet on properly. On Saturday, Amell posted the message, "Going to camera in less than a month. Crushing training" with a picture of his younger self. A great joke and a great play on how he was training for Heels before production was shut down. So could filming on Heels be happening sometime in September? We're leaning towards that from a timeline standpoint but we'll keep you posted.
Going to camera in less than a month. Crushing training. pic.twitter.com/kDpVOVMdnV
— Stephen Amell (@StephenAmell) August 15, 2020
Written by Michael Waldron (Loki), directed by Peter Segal (Shameless), and with Mike O'Malley serving as showrunner, the eight-episode series Heels stars Amell, Alexander Ludwig (Vikings), Broadway actress/musician Alison Luff (Waitress), Kelli Berglund (Now Apocalypse), Chris Bauer (The Deuce), Allen Maldonado (The Last O.G.), and James Harrison (S.W.A.T.).
Heels highlights the men and women who chase their dreams in the world of small-town pro wrestling. Set in a close-knit Georgia community, it follows a family-owned wrestling promotion as two brothers and rivals — Jack (Amell) and Ace (Ludwig) Spade — war over their late father's legacy. In the ring, somebody must play the good guy and somebody must play their nemesis, the heel. But in the real world, those characters can be hard to live up to — or hard to leave behind.
In the ring, Amell's Jack Spade is the charismatic villain, or heel, of the Duffy Wrestling Association (DWA). In the real world, he's its hard-working owner, a husband, and father trying to make ends meet while fighting to realize his impossible dreams. He has the mind of an artist in the body of a warrior, and a Steve Jobs-ian need for perfection — and for control. He says he'll do whatever it takes to build the DWA into an empire. Will he go so far as to risk his marriage – or his relationship with his brother, Ace?
Ludwig's Ace Spade is the beloved hero and star of the DWA. Things are more difficult in the real world, where he struggles to reconcile his town idol status with his insecurities and demons. He's brash, cocky and self-destructive — yet so damn charming and good-looking that you can almost forgive him. If he can keep it together, he'll have a ticket out of Duffy and to the big time. But that's a big if…
Luff's Staci Spade is the reluctant young matriarch of a family-owned Southern wrestling promotion. Having married into the world of independent wrestling, she soon learns that she has to contend with the emotional stakes her in-laws have invested in their wrestling goals and the demands it puts on her family. Berglund's Crystal is a 20-year-old wrestler's valet who yearns to transform this traditional role and compete as a wrestler. A rural-town girl of limited financial means, she's an incredible athlete who just needs an opportunity to prove she belongs in the ring – and she'll do whatever it takes to make that dream come true.
Bauer's Wild Bill Hancock is a larger-than-life former wrestling star who is now a high-level pro wrestling scout. Maldonado's Rooster Robbins is one of the best wrestlers in the circuit who always has something to prove, and always backs it up. Harrison's Apocalypse is a been-around-the-block journeyman wrestler who's been at it for decades and has no illusions of fame or glory.
Originally spearheaded by Paramount Television in 2017, STARZ serves as lead studio, with Lionsgate TV involved as part of the merger between STARZ and Lionsgate's television production operations. Waldron and O'Malley are also set to executive produce, alongside LBI Entertainment's Julie Yorn, Chris Donnelly, and Patrick Walmsley.