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The Reluctant Traveler

Eugene Levy is back for season two of his travelogue, this time gritting his teeth and wandering off the beaten path in Europe

If winter is wearing you down, funnyman Eugene Levy has just the thing for some much-needed mood elevation. “This show is nice to look at,” Levy tells TV Week, when we discuss the second outing of The Reluctant Traveler, the actor’s foray into unscripted television. “Quite honestly, we were trying to put together a travel show that was very entertaining for well-experienced travellers and for people who didn’t really care to travel — like me — and be a show that’s very pleasant to look at. I may be biased, but I think it could be the best-looking travel show on the air.” With vistas from Swedish Lapland, the Scottish countryside, rolling Tuscan hills and the stunning Côte d’Azur, there is certainly much to marvel at as Levy this season “does Europe.” But is this traveller any less “reluctant” when it comes to exploring the world in season two? Read on to find out.

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy.
Apple TV+

TV Week: The start of a second season is always a good time to take stock of what you think worked and didn’t work in season one. Did you feel any subtle changes were made in season two?

Eugene Levy: I think the only subtle change is just how much more comfortable I am doing this. When we started the show, I’d never really been on camera as myself, talk shows excluded. But I got more comfortable as the season went on, and when we picked up this year, I kind of picked up where we left off. Ultimately, the travel aspect of it has been great fun. But it’s the people that I’m coming into contact with that are really making it fun and making these travels to different countries quite memorable for me.

TV Week: First you saw Lapland in winter and now you see Lapland in summer . . .

Eugene Levy: And you know what? I prefer winter. Maybe it’s the time of year, but the mosquitoes were just crazy and the weather was quite rainy. I felt so bad for those poor, sweet people during the Midsummer Festival in their costumes in the pouring rain, getting soaked to the skin. And yet they were just as excited and happy about doing it as they would’ve been if the sun was out. I just fell in love with them that day.

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy on a park bench eating fortune cookies with another man.
Apple TV+

TV Week: The Swedes have this cutesy rhyme about how there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes . . .

Eugene Levy: Well, I think there is such a thing as bad weather. And I think there is such a thing as bad clothes. But weather doesn’t affect them up there in Sweden, that’s for sure.

TV Week: Was it nice for you to stay on one continent this time instead of bouncing around the whole world?

Eugene Levy: Listen, I got excited when I heard that we’re doing Europe. I was thinking, “Well, this is a dream come true.” Because the only thing I’ve really loved about travelling was a city. I’m a city person. Just give me a good hotel and some great cafés. But that’s not what the trip ultimately was. It was the Europe that people don’t normally get to see. It was an off-the-beaten-path Europe, revealing the continent’s hidden gems. And it was fascinating, I have to say.

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy applying spray paint to stencil.
Apple TV+

TV Week: Being familiar with the big cities of Europe, what surprised you about these hidden gems?

Eugene Levy: I don’t normally go to see the farmers who were growing the produce and raising the sheep. I mean, I was on a bee farm. Those are all good things for me to be experiencing. And I’m really loving it. But the idea behind the title of The Reluctant Traveler is the fact that in my DNA, I don’t think I can ever change. I’m not a curious person and I don’t have a great sense of adventure. Terrible things, but that’s just who I am, to be honest. And to really love travelling, I think those are the two things you need to have. So, everything is always going to be a bit of a tug for me. But once I’m there, I’m actually going through things I never would’ve. And I honestly think at this point in my life, these are things that have been good for me.

TV Week: It feels like the show is leaning into two elements. There’s the outdoorsy stuff, and then there’s the culinary part. Is one for you and one for the producers? Like, “Fine, I’ll hang out with the bees, but there’d better be something lovely to eat afterwards!”

Eugene Levy: I think they maybe innately know that. I do look forward to a good meal. Give me a Dover sole or trout or salmon. Grill it and use a little butter and lemon and maybe sprinkle a few capers with some nice roasted potatoes. But don’t put anything else on the plate. Don’t put anything with tentacles. I get nervous because people who love seafood love all kinds of seafood, and I really don’t. And when we’re up in Sweden and Finland, I know reindeer is a staple. That is crazy. I don’t like reindeer. I don’t like elk. I don’t like rabbit. I just like a steak, some beef. My tastes are quite simple and pedestrian.

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy stands on frozen lake in Finland.
Apple TV+

TV Week: But you did say yes to the oyster . . .

Eugene Levy: How about that for an experience. I finally said, “Yes, I’ll try a raw oyster.” Wow, that’s really a horrible experience. And I’m told they’re alive when you eat them. Crazy. No, I don’t like that. In Italy, different story. You can’t get a bad meal in Italy. I love Italy. Every location we go to in Italy, I get excited.

TV Week: Do you consider yourself outdoorsy?

Eugene Levy: I’m not outdoorsy. Again, no sense of adventure. I really don’t like to push myself too hard. And I’m not into new unpleasant experiences. But the outdoors are as much a part of the travel experience as indoors, and that’s what I signed up for.

TV Week: What was it like to visit your mother’s birthplace?

Eugene Levy: Scotland turned out to be one of those episodes where I didn’t anticipate how much of an emotional tug it would actually have, because I really never had a desire to go to Scotland — even knowing it was where my mother was born. But when we got to Glasgow, travelling across the river to where [she used to live], I don’t know, it just came over me: “This is where all these little stories that she told happened.” When I saw the replica of the kind of tenement apartment that they lived in back then, 11 of them in these three little rooms, I just went, “Oh my God, this is crazy.” She never really talked about how hard it was in that little apartment. She just talked about normal stories that any kid would have growing up. Yeah, it was something. And again, there’s a point right there in terms of travel. If I hadn’t gone to Scotland, that experience I never would’ve had.

TV Week: Has your wife noticed changes in you as a result of the show?

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy looks out on winter scene from inside.
Apple TV+

Eugene Levy: She is actually delighted, as are my kids, with the experiences that I’m having on the show. Some she wishes she would be having. The other thing is just how relaxed I seem to have become in terms of communicating with the people that I’m in contact with — the guides and the hotel managers and the chefs. Those conversations are kind of fun. And I never really got into those in my real life because I’m not a chit-chatty person. But I find the show brings the good side of that out in me. So it’s all a very positive thing. I think the whole family thinks the show has been so good for me, and I agree with them. It really has been.

TV Week: So, are you, in fact, becoming a curious person?

The Reluctant Traveler on Apple TV+. Pictured: Eugene Levy plays guitar.
Apple TV+

Eugene Levy: No. No, that’s what I’m saying. If you were to ask me, “There must be one place in the world now you’re just dying to get to?” the answer is no, because that’s who I am. It’s not bringing out a sense of adventure in me, but the act of travelling is becoming more pleasant. I still find I need a push.

The Reluctant Traveler premieres Friday, March 8 on Apple TV+

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