At 76 years old, Eugene Levy is doing something he’s never done before.
The beloved, award-winning comedy actor – known for roles as the outspoken father in the American Pie film series and, more recently, the endearing owner of a motel in Schitt’s Creek – is stepping in front of the camera for the first time as himself.
His latest series is a travel show, and in keeping with the title – The Reluctant Traveler – sees Levy being sent to locations and encouraged to participate in activities that put him well outside his comfort zone.
but he said Backstage – the Sky News film and TV podcast – is really not having a character to hide behind what he found most difficult.
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“It was the scariest aspect of doing this show,” said Levy.
“It’s the first time I’ve done this – I’ve always played characters that, you know, the further they are from who I am, the more comfortable I am.
“So this is like ground zero.”
But he says that while it was a challenge, it was definitely worth it.
“It’s been good for me, in fact I feel like the show has almost been acting like a big shrink or something.
“I think it’s done good things for me as a person, and I’m actually more comfortable now than I was when I started the show because I had some things I needed to work on.”
The actor also admits that he didn’t hold back when it came to portraying himself.
‘Expand my horizons’
“I think I’m revealing more about myself than I ever have in my life – to anyone.
“But I thought it was important for the show to let people know the whys of the reluctant aspect of the show, rather than just being on the surface.
“So it had to be more revealing in terms of who I am and what my phobias are.”
Right at the beginning of the first episode, we hear Levy say that at 75 years old (when the series was filmed) he thought it was time to expand his horizons.
It may seem late to make such a change, but the actor says it all comes down to attitude.
“What doing this show kind of taught me is that it’s better to try something and then decide whether you like it or not, rather than not trying.
“And I’m at an age where if I don’t try, you end up saying goodbye and what did you do?
“It’s much better to try and then make a decision about how much fun you’re really having.”
A great challenge
The episodes take the star to countries like Finland, Costa Rica and Japan, and in each of the eight places he visits, Levy lives with the locals and is encouraged to get involved with their culture.
While many of the experiences end up surprising him by being more enjoyable than he expects, he admits that there was one thing he was asked to do that he tried to refuse.
“I actually said no when asked to take a stool sample from an elephant,” he explained.
“I said, ‘No, I don’t think I can do this,’ and then my producer, David Brindley, I heard off camera saying, ‘Oh, I think you can.’ show, it’s for the show, it’s for the show, yeah ok’.
“And would I do it again? No.”
The series is like a bucket list in itself, with Levy ticking off the travel experiences many people dream of.
But he says that when it comes to his own to-do list, he has a pretty simple philosophy.
“Keep breathing, I think that’s the only thing on my bucket list that makes any sense.
“I love doing fun things – this has been fun and totally different for me, which makes it exciting.
“But you know, in what I do, which is mostly in the comedy world, as long as you’re having fun doing it, you can keep doing it.”
The Reluctant Traveler is available on Apple TV+ – listen to our review of the latest episode of Backstage, Sky News’ film and TV podcast.