Get a first look at Heels season 2, which makes a comeback this summer

Get a first look at Heels season 2, which makes a comeback this summer

It's finally time for the Spade brothers to get back into the ring.

EW has an exclusive first look at season 2 of the Starz wrestling drama Heels, which makes its long-awaited return on Friday, July 28, at 10 p.m.

When last we saw Jack (Stephen Amell) and Ace Spade (Alexander Ludwig), the two Duffy Wrestling League stars were beating the living crap out of each other during a headlining match at the Georgia State Fair. After Jack confessed to humiliating his younger brother by having fans throw packets of Kleenex at him during a previous match, Ace began pummeling his sibling-slash-boss for real. Just as it looked like Ace was about to choke the life out of his brother, aspiring wrestler Crystal (Kelli Berglund) jumped into the ring and saved the match — ultimately scoring the championship belt for herself.

The DWL's moment of triumph won't last long, however. In season 2, Jack will need to earn Ace's forgiveness, convince his wife, Staci (Alison Luff), that he's ready to put his family first, and fend off more challenges from wealthy rival promoter Charlie Gully (Mike O'Malley), who remains determined to put the DWL out of business. Meanwhile, the DWL's flamboyant star Wild Bill Hancock (Chris Bauer) will have to figure out a way to face the fans again after defecating on himself during the State Fair match, and Rooster (Allen Maldonado) must decide whether he wants to stay at Florida Wrestling Dystopia with Gully or head back to the DWL. As for Jack's no-BS business partner, Willie (Mary McCormack)? She'll be working tirelessly behind the scenes to hold it all together, as usual.

On the eve of the Writers Guild of America strike, EW spoke with Heels showrunner and co-star Mike O'Malley about where Jack and Ace Spade go from here, what schemes Gully plans to unleash next, and why Crystal's championship belt may be in question.


Starz Ace (Alexander Ludwig) and Jack Spade (Stephen Amell) in 'Heels'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Fans have been waiting almost two years for a new season. Was there any specific reason for the delay?

MIKE O'MALLEY: We completed production on July 1st of last year. Then we had an extensive post-production period because we had some visual effects. One of the things I love about Starz is how much time and thought they put into everything. We finished post-production in January. There was no issue in terms of the creative. I think there are attending issues with Lionsgate and Starz, who are both in business on this [show], and they're separating from one another. We didn't do any rewriting. We didn't do any reshooting. Starz, they like to launch one or two shows a quarter, and they decided that summertime is the best for this show. There was nothing nefarious, nobody got injured.

The season 1 finale left the Spade brothers on uneasy terms, now that Ace knows Jack staged the Kleenex gimmick to help turn him into a heel. What can you preview about their relationship this season?

I think what happens in the first season is that Jack will do anything to make sure that the DWL succeeds, and he humiliates his brother in the process. At the end of season 1, you have Ace Spade, who has gone on enough of a journey to realize that Crystal is trying to save him and Jack from letting the pain in their past destroy what has been built for everyone.

In season 2, Ace has to go on a journey to realize that he has just been seeking applause and fame and recognition and doing that has made him somebody that he doesn't like. He doesn't like that he needs the applause so much that he breaks down in tears. He doesn't like that his entire life has been built about trying to be a professional football player, and he didn't make it. He feels like his whole life is a failure. You'll see in season 2, episode 1 is somewhat of an origin story. We pick up exactly where we left off in the finale, where Ace walks out of the ring, walks out of that hallway and just gets in a car and is like, "F--- this shit." And then Jack's journey is, how can I demonstrate my contrition in active ways to my wife, to my colleagues, to my mother, to my brother, to my son? These acts of contrition are profound, but they have to be profound.


Starz Willie (Mary McCormack), Jack, and Big Jim in 'Heels'

Staci was definitely fed up with Jack by the end of season 1.

You'll see in the first episode of season 2, it ends with them on a phone call. But she's not just like, "Okay, great." She's like, "You've got some road to travel, dude." We're trying to write a show about these men and women who are yearning to be seen, they're yearning to make their lives something meaningful. They're creative people, and they really want to connect. What we want to resonate is that these people are trying to make their life meaningful creatively, and how much you have to rely on one another to make that happen.

Crystal, who had been struggling all season to get the league to take her seriously as a wrestler, surprised everyone in the finale by throwing off her "Bunny Bombshell" valet costume and actually winning the championship match. What can you tease about her season 2 storyline?

She wins the belt, but what happens is there's people who say, "Wait a minute, she wasn't [officially] in the match — is she really able to win the belt?" I play the rival promoter, Gilly, and I'm like, "That's the worst finish I've ever seen!" So, Jack realizes that he has people questioning whether or not she really did this. The debate is, "Well, Crystal doesn't have the belt — Bunny Bombshell has the belt. And she has it for Bill!" All that conversation happens on screen. So the league sets up a situation where she absolutely soars.


Starz Crystal (Kelli Berglund) in 'Heels'

Kelli Berglund, the actress who plays Crystal, is just tremendous. She really just gave at her all this past year to get in shape and get ready for it — and she ends up becoming the real star of the season.

Gully spent most of last season trying to put the DWL out of business one way or another. I'm guessing he hasn't given up on that mission in season 2?

No! In the finale match, when Wild Bill crapped his pants — we didn't put this in the cut, but when Bill took down Gully, he basically sat on Gully's face. [laughs] The things I'm willing to do for art. So now in season 2, Wild Bill goes on a podcast and starts trashing Gully. And Gully decides, "All right, this is going a little bit too far. If this is the game you wanna play, I'm gonna sue you." He goes to Jack and gives him an offer he can't refuse — I don't mean he's going to kill him, but he's going to basically put him out of business.


Starz Charlie Gully (Mike O'Malley) in 'Heels'

Gully is like, "I didn't even know who you guys were until you started trashing me on podcasts. You have created this circumstance." Everything that Jack does is due to his own character flaws. If he did not lie to Ace, he wouldn't be in the situation with Ace. If he did not decide to punch Charlie Gully in the face as a way to deal with his problems with him, he would not be in the situation that he's in now.

This season, you can kind of can see Gully's point. You'll see, he's just a dad, he's celebrating that his daughter got into college. He's just trying to run a business, and the Spade brothers are being ridiculous.

Gully lured Rooster away from the DWL last season — but he also told him point-blank that he was just using him to get to Ace. Will we see Rooster go back to the DWL this season?

Well, no. What Gully says to him is like, "Just chill out. You're making more money, and you're becoming more famous." This season, we double down on this idea of it's all about heat, it's all about attention with wrestling. I don't want to spoil it, but Rooster comes out looking just great.


Starz Big Jim (Duke Davis Roberts) and Rooster (Allen Maldonado)

We learned more about Jack and Ace's father, Tom, last season through a series of flashbacks. Will David James Elliott return this year to reprise his role as the Spade patriarch?

Oh, yeah. David James Elliott, I think he's going to win a guest Emmy for his performance in episode six. He's in the first few episodes, but then in episode six, we learn about him and what happened in the days before he died.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Heels season 2 premieres Friday, July 28 at 10 p.m. on Starz.

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