Heels on Starz: Kelli Burglund draws inspiration from female wrestlers ‘Such an icon’

Alexander Ludwig's hasn't slept because of the Heels premiere

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Stephen Amell, Alexander Ludwig and the cast of Heels made sure to do extensive research into the world of wrestling for the new sports drama, which premiered Sunday night on Starz. Former Disney star Kelli Berglund became a huge fan during the production of the series, and has revealed how she was inspired by female wrestlers in particular when she spoke to Express.co.uk.

Kelli Berglund has explained why female wrestling was so important for her portrayal of valet Crystal Tyler in the new Starz series, Heels.

The eight-episode drama pits Stephen Amell (Arrow) and Alexander Ludwig (Vikings) together as brothers Jack and Ace Spade.

Meanwhile, Ace’s girlfriend Crystal watches from backstage with dreams of entering the ring herself.

The main cast member recently spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk, and revealed the cast watched a number of classic wrestling matches to get into character.

She recalled: “I didn’t have much of a background in wrestling whatsoever before I became a part of this show.

“I just kind of started from zero and started watching female wrestling, a lot of 80s and 90s which I was really drawn to and thought was really awesome.”

While much of the cast was new to the sport, former superhero Stephen Amell is a lifelong fan and occasional pro wrestler himself.

After landing his role as Oliver Queen in the hit CW series Arrow, Amell has since made several celebrity appearances starting with WWE’s Raw in 2015.

Throughout filming, Amell proved an invaluable source of knowledge and introduced Berglund to a number of female champions.

“Stephen Amell is really well-versed in wrestling,” the actress continued.

“He would have the cast over and we would sit and watch old wrestling matches for hours at a time.

“He would explain what everything was, what everything meant, and what the storyline was, so it was all a really brand new learning experience.”

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While it was important for the cast to study the footage in order to pull off wrestling’s most challenging moves, Berglund came away with a newfound appreciation for the sport.

She also revealed she was most drawn to Chyna, a two-time WWF (now WWE) champion and the first woman to participate in the Royal Rumble match and King of the Ring tournament.

“Chyna was such an icon,” Berglund said, “who unfortunately ended up having a pretty tragic story in terms of her wrestling career.”

Chyna sadly passed away from an accidental overdose in 2016, but her legacy has been cemented as one of the most influential wrestlers in the history of the sport.

The actress continued: “Her theatrics and her strength… I mean, she’s this Amazonian woman who is just so interesting to watch.

“There’s a really iconic match between her and this wrestler Ivory […] they really sell it and you really believe it.

“That was like one of my favourite matches that I saw just in doing all my research.”

Crystal may just be there to support Ace at the start of the season, but Berglund’s extensive research during production could hint towards a more stunt-heavy role as the series goes on.

Heels continues Sundays on Starz and STARZPLAY.


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