Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig Talk Fatherhood, Cuddle Sessions and 'Heels' Season 2 (Exclusive)

The two actors talk to ET about leading the Starz wrestling drama.

After a two-year hiatus, Heels is finally back with season 2 as it continues to tell the story of a smalltown, family-owned wrestling organization. At the center of the Starz sports drama are Jack and Ace Spade (Stephen Amell and Alexander Ludwig, respectively), two rivaling brothers fighting over their late father's legacy and their own, individual success. 

Ahead of Heels' return with new episodes on Friday, July 28, the two actors sat down with ET's Denny Directo to discuss what's to come for the Spade brothers as well as their own, off-screen bond that involves on-set cuddle sessions and experiences with fatherhood. 

Picking up after the events of season 1, Heels begins with the Duffy Wrestling League experiencing an upswing in popularity after a successful showing at the South Georgia State Fair, prompting a potential new deal with a streaming service that may guarantee their survival. But just as things seem to be moving forward, Ace decides to leave Duffy and his brother, Jack, behind for a new opportunity to step out on his own. 

Led by showrunner and executive producer Mike O'Malley, who also plays Charlie Gully, the season 2 cast includes Alison Luff as Staci Spade, Mary McCormack as Willie Day, Kelli Berglund as Crystal Tyler, Allen Maldonado as Rooster Robbins, Chris Bauer as Wild Bill Hancock, Trey Tucker as Bobby Pin as well as Emmy Raver-Lampman as Jen Lussier and fellow wrestling aficionado Josh Segarra as Brooks Rizzo.

Alexander Ludwig and Stephen Amell in 'Heels' season 2. - Starz

"The first season ended with Ace walking out of the ring. The second season starts with him walking out of the arena," Amell said, teasing that the beginning of season 2 shows audiences where Jack and Ace are now that they are not together. For Amell, it was a fun opportunity to push his character, especially in the wake of finding himself alone at a time when "things should be good," he said, adding that he then "goes about trying to figure out why that happened and then make some changes." 

As for Ace, he's "a mess," Ludwig teased, explaining that "he's just this little boy that is just so traumatized by this really, really horrific event. And what I love about season 2 is you, for the first time, really get to experience what the brothers experienced." As a result, especially after stepping out on his own, Ace "is on his own journey, trying to figure out who he is, who he's going to be," the actor continued, adding that the character is "trying to redefine himself as a human being and also a wrestler."

Given the intense dynamic between the two brothers onscreen, it's not surprising that, off-screen, the two actors lean on each other both physically and mentally to bring the series to life in front of the cameras. 

"I do lean on Stephen a lot," Ludwig revealed. "This person, especially with wrestling, he really understands a lot. I've been fortunate enough to work with a lot of Hall of Fame wrestlers throughout my career that I can lean on, but Stephen is the one who is there." The actor added, "He comes to me all the time. Like, we have cuddle sessions and we'll just talk about how we're doing in life and I'm kind of his therapist." 

"I have leaned on Alexander a lot, both personally and professionally. I really admire his work ethic," Amell said, confirming the tight relationship between the two co-stars. 

Helping cement that bond is the fact that they're both now fathers, with Amell welcoming his second child with wife Cassandra Jean in May 2022 while Ludwig and his wife, Lauren Dear, just welcomed their first child in April of this year.

"My son was born during the second season. And yeah, that was challenging," Amell shared, before adding that his son, Bowen, is "great."

As for Ludwig, fatherhood "is the greatest thing ever," he said. "I might have thought that having a kid would be more stressful – and, of course, there are moments – but it honestly was just, like, a huge weight off my shoulders." He added that "it's so easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of this business and nothing else matters… But [my daughter], she is my everything. And my wife has just been a super mom, so it's been incredible." 

With both now raising kids, conversations about fatherhood "naturally" came up on set. But Ludwig revealed that the best advice Amell ever gave him wasn't related to parenting, it was actually over his engagement to Dear, whom he married in 2020. "The one piece of advice I really remember – and it just stuck with me – was actually when I got engaged. Stephen had really good advice, and I've since passed it onto friends who've gotten engaged," Ludwig shared, before recalling that Amell said, "Once you get engaged, don't call anybody. Just spend that time with her." 

"And it was actually the greatest advice because we did that. We actually didn't call anybody that entire night. And it was just us and it was really, really special to, like, sit in that together before inevitably you call 100 people and tell them what happened," he concluded. 

Heels season 2 debuts Friday, July 28 at 12 a.m. ET on the Starz app before airing on Starz at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on July 13, 2023.