Eugene Levy knows a thing or two about hospitality after playing Johnny Rose, the perpetual guest of the Rosebud Motel for over six seasons of the Emmy-winning comedy Schitt‘s Creek. Now, he’s taking that experience on the road for Apple TV+‘s new docuseries The Reluctant Traveler with Eugene Levy, in which he stays at unique hotels and offers viewers a glimpse at the local cultures and customs found in places ranging from Costa Rica and the Maldives (as seen in the exclusive clip above) to Finland and Venice in Italy.
A reluctant traveler at heart, Levy is offering fans a glimpse at his truest self as he puts his most adventurous foot forward for activities not often experienced by the inexperienced globe-trotter. Below, Levy offers some insight into the process that went into making the Apple TV+ show, his altered approach to traveling, and some of the exciting things the series has in store.
How did you get involved with a show like this, and what made you want to travel to places you’ve never been before?
Eugen Levy: I first got a call from my agent saying Apple wants to talk to you about hosting a show about exotic hotels around the world. And I thought, “ah, okay. I’m not that fond of generally traveling. I’ve got a very low sense of curiosity, and I’m not an adventurous person.” I don’t have a gregarious personality in terms of chitchat. So we get on the phone with the Apple, and I’m going through my excuses and my reasons as to why I’m not the person, and I’m getting laughs on the other end of the phone.
I wanted to keep it light because I don’t want this to be a heavy conversation. So I’m thinking, well, this is good. I’m getting my point across, and I’m getting laughs. Great. After that call, they called each other and said, “that’s the show, it’s not just about the hotels, it’s about the person going to these places who doesn’t love to travel.” When they pitched that to me, I said, okay, “I get it. I get it.”
Was it a little nerve-wracking kind of showing this side of yourself to fans and viewers? Or was it exciting to kind of unveil that about yourself?
Nerve-wracking, yes, because it’s the first time in my career that I’ve been on camera as myself. I normally have been playing characters so far removed from who I am that the closer I get to who I am in character, the more nerve-wracking it became. So the idea of doing this show, talking to viewers, was terribly nerve-wracking. I had to get over some things… let’s call them issues. I’m kind of shy and maybe a little insecure. All those were reasons why I said, “why am I doing this? This doesn’t make sense.” But this all coming out in the show has been a very cathartic experience for me.
You have so many experiences in this show, from ice floating in Finland to a jungle tour in Costa Rica. Is there a particular experience you’re excited for viewers to see as the show unfolds?
The most memorable experiences of every location have been the people I’ve been meeting. That’s been a great thing for me because I truly feel it’s been an uplifting experience learning about these different cultures through the people I’m meeting. I don’t know if there’s a favorite episode. I think maybe Finland could have been the most fun. South Africa could have been the most surprising to me in terms of what I got out of it. But I think every episode has something for viewers. Our goal was to make it a legitimately great travel show with a bit more of a comedic personality.
How has this show changed your approach to travel? Are you still just as reluctant?
I’m not the same person I was before signing on, but some of the reservations that I had are still innate in who I am. The idea of going on an adventure for the sake of an adventure, I don’t know if I’m quite there yet. But the fact that I’m more open to having these experiences than I was before, I think, is a big step for me.
One of the highlights you mentioned before is meeting the people in these locations. What was the process of finding locals to feature in these episodes?
I wish I could take credit for that, but we have an amazing production team. They really excel at this kind of show. There are several trips the producers on the show have to take to scout the locations, to scout the people that they may want to talk to. All of that takes time. So every location, they’re going to way in advance and figuring out who it is that [we’re going to profile]. They have to have an interesting, if not bubbly, personality. They have to be good on camera. So all of that is taken care of long before I get there. Fortunately, it’s an amazing team. I’m glad we have them. And that makes my job easy because all I have to do is show up.
The Reluctant Traveler with Eugene Levy, Series Premiere, Friday, February 24, Apple TV+