1 of 5 | Eugene Levy visits Venice in an episode of "The Reluctant Traveler," premiering Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
NEW YORK, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Schitt's Creek, Best in Show and American Pie icon Eugene Levy acknowledges that the prospect of leaving his comfort zone to star in the globe-trotting docu-series The Reluctant Traveler was initially daunting. But he is glad he accepted the challenge.
"I was very comfortable doing characters that didn't resemble me in the slightest. The closer a character got to who I was as a person, the more nervous I got," the 76-year-old actor told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
"One of the most frightening things about this show -- over and above why I just thought I wasn't the person to front it because I'm not that fond of traveling -- was that I was on camera as myself and that's something I had to work on," the Emmy winner added. "It's ultimately been a great experience for me."
Premiering Friday on Apple TV+, the show follows Levy as he tentatively explores gorgeous farflung locales for the first time.
"I'm in the Arctic Circle and the big question for me is, 'Why?'" the bundled-up and uncertain-looking actor sums up the premise for the series in a trailer, noting that he is a "Great Indoors" as opposed to a "Great Outdoors" type of guy.
But over the course of eight episodes, the series shows Levy starting to relax in his new environments, gamely going on various adventures despite his anxieties and frequently appearing awestruck by the sights and sounds of places like Utah, Tokyo, Venice, Lisbon, the Maldives and Finland.
"I'm hoping that seasoned travelers will look at this as a show that is really beautifully put together and maybe get a chuckle out of the fact that I'm there," he told UPI.
"People who don't like to travel or don't travel that much, I'm thinking they're going to maybe identify with me on the show, maybe might be thinking the same thoughts I'm thinking on the show, in much the same way, [see me as] a kindred spirit on the tube there."
Before the show came along, the actor had a simple formula for a pleasant trip or vacation.
"Give me a pool and a lovely cocktail and a good steak," he said. "It wouldn't make for a great series."
As a producer on and star of the show, the actor had input into what eight places he would visit.
"In the beginning, I was scratching locations off the list because in my old life I probably wouldn't have wanted to go there," he recalled.
"Italy? Yes! I kind of like Italy. Why don't we do that? But then there were locations like South Africa and Costa Rica that I knew would be, obviously, good for the show," Levy said, adding he would reconsider the places he rejected if the show gets picked up for a second season.
Levy's family -- which includes his actress daughter Sarah Levy and writer-actor son Dan Levy -- were surprised he decided to headline such an adventurous project and were curious about what it would look like before they watched it.
"My wife, Deb, has said, 'Good for you for trying this,'" Levy said when asked if his family is proud of his latest endeavor.
"I am getting involved in things that I never would have wanted to do -- night hiking in a rainforest in Costa Rica or going to South Africa on safari."
Levy said the experience has changed him forever.
"I'm glad I had the opportunity before it's too late to become a more enlightened, more interesting person than I thought I was," he said. "It's been good for me."
Levy won the 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Actor for his role on Schitt's Creek, which also won Outstanding Comedy Series. His dozens of other screen credits include National Lampoon's Vacation, Armed and Dangerous, Splash, Serendipity, Waiting for Guffman, For Your Consideration and Father of the Bride.