At a special Q&A promoting the third episode of the Starz series Heels, attended by Wrestling Inc.’s own Nick Hausman, AEW star CM Punk and actor Stephen Amell talked about the making of the show. Between joking about Amell inspiring Punk to return to the ring and several other stories, Amell also touched upon the two working a match in the show.
“We had this moment on set where we were trying to design the Jack Spade-Ricky Rabies fight,” Amell said. “And I said to Phil, I said ‘what do you think?’ And he said ‘what do you think Stephen?’ I said ‘no Phil. What do you think?’ It was absolutely exceptional and amazing to have someone like Phil on this episode. We had one little bit in the fight that we weren’t able to do because of COVID protocols. I was supposed to take a spear and do a spit take. They were like ‘nope.’ To have people like Phil, to have people like Mick Foley, who’s in episode six, it’s just really special. It’s really cool.”
Punk also discussed one of the more polarizing elements of the show, such as the scenes showing Amell’s character, Jack Spade, scripting the show. Punk pointed out that may not be entirely accurate, but that Heels is a TV show and that the drama of the scenes really helped put the show together.
“I didn’t think anybody got anything wrong,” Punk said. “And the way I explain it in the media is, now this is very authentic, but there’s a point where we’re shooting a television program. And just like Mr. O’Malley said, he wants his grandmother, his mother in New Hampshire, to understand what’s going on. So to Stephen’s point, he’d say ‘what do you think about this?’ And I would be like ‘hey man, I’m here as an actor. I’m not here as a set designer or anything else.’ I’m a guest. That’s not what it’s about. But then eventually we reached a happy medium where I was like ‘oh they’re not going to hate me if I say something.’ Because I’m picking everyone’s brain around me about acting, so it’s only fair they pick my brain about wrestling.
“So I get it. You’re sitting at home, you’re a 30 year wrestling fan and you’re like ‘nobody sits in front of a computer and types it out and writes a script.’ I think people do that. I don’t necessarily think DWL, small down, independent wrestling would. But it struck me watching the first episode how necessary that was to watch him do that. I’m watching it with my wife and she’s like ‘script! HA!’ But then it comes around full circle that every time he takes the computer out, he pulls it up, and he can’t get it out. He knows what he has to do, he’s got to screw his brother. He knows he’s got to do it and he can’t seem to type it. That’s such a necessary component in episode one, and if we didn’t do it that way, if he didn’t sit down in front of a computer to write a script, you wouldn’t get those moments where I thought it was brilliantly acted. That’s the conflict you see, it’s between him and his computer and he’s like ‘ah, I’m just going to go do it.’ And he can’t bring himself to type it out, and then you see what happens. So you’re going to see a little things like that where it gets fudged, like ‘yeah, maybe not 100% authentic.’ But it’s a television show.”
Punk’s character, Ricky Rabies, required Punk to have all of his tattoos removed by a makeup team. He described the process of how long this took, revealing that it could be a grueling process.
“It took three, three and a half hours, depending on how many people I had working on me, to cover up all my tattoos,” Punk said. “And go figure, I have more tattoos than I realized, because we would finish and I’d be like ‘okay great.’ Then we’d be shooting a scene where I’d have my pants around my ankles and I’d be like ‘oh s**t. I have other tattoos.’ I got a great picture behind the scenes where I’m sitting in my actors chair in between scenes, and I have the COVID face shield on. And I have hair doing my hair and makeup doing my tattoos and I’m taking a COVID test at the same time.
“So I have a thing up my nose, somebody’s messing with my hair, somebody’s putting makeup over me and I’m just miserable. I sat in makeup I think for fifteen hours before we did anything physical. And the instant we touched it just obliterated my makeup and I was just ‘oh my god.’ But I was fortunate. I was told we have a budget and we were just going to cover it up in post. So I was like ‘oh that’s good.’ But it’s not fun sitting around for fifteen hours in makeup.”
There has been speculation since Punk’s return to AEW that his role on Heels was the catalyst for his return. When asked, Punk answered in a not so serious fashion.
“100%!” Punk joked. “It’s all Stephen Amell’s fault!”
“Alexander (Ludwig) had us over for dinner when we were filming the last episode,” Amell said. “And I finally broke and I’m like ‘Phil, are you going to go back?’ ‘I don’t know, should I?’ That’s what you said. And I said ‘yeah, because you can still go.'”
You can watch the full Q&A below: