Stephen Amell, Canadian, just turned forty, 1.85 tall and with a body so worked up that it hurts to see him, has not managed to get his shirt back. His new character in the series Heels (Starzplay) is dedicated to wrestling and keeping the business of his clan alive, where this activity is practiced, while he faces a thousand and one family problems, so he is lightly dressed for most of the footage.
He’s accustomed. He lost it playing that comic book hero we knew as Arrow -Green arrow for connoisseurs- Batman and Superman’s fatigue partner in the comic book team of titans called The Justice League To which, often, the producers of the series undressed as much as they could, aware that “although it was not an essential component for success, it was part of the equation”, corroborates the actor.
And although the matter of becoming a sex symbol It got a bit on his nerves, “because my abdomen was sometimes the subject of the first question in some interviews, and I didn’t like it at all,” the truth is that he owes everything to the mysterious archer. “I got this job when I was 30 and, up to that point, I had never made a character last more than a year for me. The series changed my life. I started it recently divorced and now I am married again and my daughter is already eight years old. I decided that I could start a family –together with the model and actress Cassandra Jean- thanks to the security that the series gave me ”.
And although the last season he made it “for money; because it would have been fiscally irresponsible not to do it, although I had a great time ”, it was difficult for him to get rid of the character and he suffered significant collateral damage. Lightening up his extraordinarily harsh training routine apparently led to physical problems and even a panic attack that he saw fit in the middle of a television interview.
The ‘Arrow’ series changed my life. I was 30 years old, I started it recently divorced and now I am married again and my daughter is already eight years old
He has not had to wait long for continuity. Heels, created by Michael Waldron, also responsible for the recent Loki for Disney, it has allowed him to glam up the skimpy world of wrestling a bit. He does it hand in hand with another tiarrón from the hosts of the series Vikings, Alexander Ludwig, and both represent two brothers united by an intense and tortuous bond, facing each other inside and outside the ring. “An actor with whom I have got on wonderfully. He always has good ideas and never gets too caught up in them, so he’s very flexible in a scene, whether it’s an acid dialogue or when we have to get physical. He is like a big boy who has no complexes for doing this and we get a little out of hand, but always being careful, of course ”. A real testosterone battle on the assault of summer programming
Do you like that your roles have to do with your own personality?
In a way. Arrow applied logic to problems, although it had a very emotional side, and I am a great advocate of proactivity; of not waiting seated until it is time to react. My character in Heels He is, in addition to a local wrestling champion, a family man, respectful son, level-headed older brother, and I think a good guy in all respects. They tell me it’s like a “southern version” of myself. He is also stubborn, like me, and although he is reluctant to do so, when he decides, driven by circumstances, to take charge of the family business, he does so with all the consequences. Their decisions are not always correct or right, but I think that when someone is put in charge of something, it has value. As Lena Durham (creator of the series Girls), if there are many people behind a project it will seem that it does not belong to anyone.
Are you individualistic in this sense?
In decisions about a project, I prefer the creative vision of someone in particular and not that of a focus group that decides what we are going to do, but, in the end, as much as I like to interfere as much as possible in the work in which that I participate, I am nothing more than an actor who would like to be active all the time. I can’t stand to stop. I have not forgotten that while I was trying to make a place for myself in Hollywood because I wanted to succeed and be a famous actor, I was teaching spinning to be able to eat and pay the rent.
I have not forgotten that while I was looking for my place in Hollywood I was giving spinning classes to eat and pay the rent
Did you never regret what you wished for? Are you doing well about fame?
I spent time in the Maldives and a lot of people recognized me there. I was on the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia and could barely move down the street because everyone seemed to know who I was. I almost went crazy in Italy and I am constantly recognized if I go down the street in the UK. Curiously, where it happened most unnoticed is in the United States. It is the effect of the globalism of television platforms. I do not take it badly. It’s what I fought for.
His life is inextricably linked to physical effort, apparently …
I am very motivated about this. Once you’ve established a physique on television, if you have to delve into that part again for another character, you have to stick with it or prepare for all kinds of criticism.
Are you very concerned about ‘what will they say’?
At this time of the rise of social networks, without a doubt. For almost a decade I played a character like Green Arrow who created enormous expectations in the public, and even today there are people who consider that I did not honor him enough and that the story was not what it should be. But it happened to Ben Affleck when he played Batman after Christian Bale and it will happen to the next one who wears the Iron Man armor. Some will love him and some will hate him; this is a moving train. The networks have this double face: to promote jobs they are an exceptional tool. I love how Ryan Reynolds used them to publicize Deadpool with those brief interventions, disguised as such, which went viral. On the other hand, I do not have too much conflict with the fact of showing or sharing what I do. I like it. For this character I have prepared myself thoroughly and also watched a lot of old matches from the 70s and 80s, to get some ideas to incorporate into my character so that the audience has fun and the fans boo if they want.
And in that maelstrom of physical preparation in which he lives, he became a professional wrestling professional in his personal life …
And when they asked me to do Heels, it was like a blessing. He couldn’t believe it when it happened, but not just because of this coincidence. Anyone can do a show about wrestling. We could put on screen 50 minutes of great high-quality match summaries that, if there were no more ingredients, would not have the desired impact. The important thing is the characters and the relationships between them. In fact, in the second chapter we did not step on the ring. Plus, wrestling is so much more interesting when you raise the hood and check out what’s underneath. It is a much more complex and demanding world than you might think. To be up to the task I had to prepare thoroughly because this is an even more physical character than Arrow. He’s my age, he’s already turned 40, and bodies change. I gained 11 kilos of muscle and didn’t overly worry about what my abs would look like. I wanted to look tough. The biggest struggle was keeping the weight off, so I was doing nothing but training, eating, and then studying and rolling. And heal my injuries, of course. I wrecked my back on the second day.
Wasn’t it quite a stressful process?
Nothing is being easy during the pandemic. We exercised four or five times a week in a gym built expressly for the team so that we weren’t training each on our own, which would increase the risk of having to stop the recording if someone got sick. We ate three large meals a day and, between meals, a sandwich and even a hamburger. I’m not proud of that, but there was no other.
With ‘Arrow’ we showed that superhero series could work as well as movies
Is it starting to be difficult to place the series in environments that are original?
Of course. Wrestling has legions of followers all over the world and people of very different ages like it, who argue about whether what is seen in the fighting is all theater or not, but, regardless of this, what is clear is that it is it is an area that ensures entertainment. The success of international competitions proves it. You show up, you pay money and these guys and girls put on an incredible show. It is a phenomenon that reaches many countries and that can make you as fanatic as football, baseball, hockey or Game of Thrones. Those shows are like television shows in which the ending is not written. And it is very surprising what some people are capable of in the ring.
Do you think you have a good nose for success?
I would like to think so. The truth is that when it was over Arrow, the future scared me a little. What we did was important: we managed to show that superhero series could work as well as movies. Thanks to her the doors of the cinema were opened to me when my name and the word film They almost never appeared together in the same sentence, but, more importantly, it gave me a voice to help in various social issues that interest me such as the fight against cancer or the dignity of mental illness. In any case, it is always best to cross your fingers …
From elegant superhero to fighter in trouble
Amell is perfectly aware that Arrow’s shadow will haunt him for a long time to come. Virtually unknown, this Toronto-born actor from a family with French, Scottish, English and German roots and a special fondness for politics since several of his ancestors have been mayors or parliamentarians, converted the character created for the role in 1941 with the characteristics of a modern Robin Hood in a complete success. The series portrayed him as a young, crazy and hedonistic millionaire who, after being trapped for years on an island due to a shipwreck, returns to his city with the determination to wipe murderers and corrupt off the map, taking advantage of his extraordinary physical preparation and his mastery of the bow, the result of those years of survival and learning, which appear shrouded in mystery. The series had eight installments, but taking advantage of the free time between seasons, he has starred in the romantic period drama ‘When calls the heart’, in which he played a member of the Canadian Mounted Police, along with Maggie Grace, from the saga ‘Twilight’ was about to take over the desired central role in the film adaptation of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’. Until he reached success, Amell walked through various outreach serials, among which stand out ‘Vampiric Chronicles’, in which he played a perverse werewolf, ‘Without appointment’, where he wore the uniform of a self-sacrificing paramedic and ‘Hung’ in the one who changed this one for the signature suits he needed to face his role as a prostitute. In addition, he has to his credit a Gemini award – equivalent to the American Emmy, but awarded by the Canadian television industry – for his participation in the fantastic ‘Regénesis’. Despite such an impeccable service record, he is especially proud of his appearances in two films that served him as a luxury apprenticeship: the romantic ‘Closing the Circle’, opposite Shirley McLaine, in which he was directed by Sir Richard Attenborough and the policeman. ‘The Tracy fragments’, with Elliot Page. He has tried his popular pull in front of the modern version of the Ninja Turtles and in the science fiction thriller ‘Code 8’ with his cousin, the no less handsome Robbie Amell, of which they both just filmed the sequel.
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“My superhero roles opened the doors of the cinema for me”