Eugene Levy of Pop’s Schitt’s Creek talks to Awards Daily TV about working with his son, the straightest role he’s ever done, and the Roses’ future.
In Season 3 of Pop’s Schitt’s Creek, David (Dan Levy) learns that his parents have been protecting him from true independence for years, never letting him flourish on his own. This is very unlike Dan’s situation in real life. While Dan and his father, Eugene Levy, worked together on Season 1 of the Pop series, since Season 2, Eugene has let his son have the reins.
“This was a bit of a learning curve for me,” said the elder Levy. “I thought it was actually going to be a learning curve for him when we started. It was more for me. He just kind of came out of the gate so fast on this thing. I thought I might have to do a little mentoring when we started the show, but he was way ahead of me on this thing.”
Welcome to Schitt’s Creek
For those who haven’t seen Schitt’s Creek (binge it right now on Netflix!), the show follows a wealthy family who loses everything save for one remaining asset: a small town purchased as a joke (you can guess what the name is). Seasons 1 and 2 found the Rose family adjusting to their new lives. In Season 3, they really fully immersed themselves in the local culture with jobs, roles, and friends. However, Johnny, played by Levy, still struggles to find his next business venture.
“This is a whole different kind of world for him, and you have to deal with what you have and what you can make of it. It’s not like you can start some massive company in this small-town community. You have to deal with your buyers and your potential market and that’s a slow build. That’s something he had to adapt to, which is what he’s doing now.”
When Stevie (Emily Hampshire) wants to sell the motel where the Rose family currently resides, Johnny sees this as a crucial opportunity—mostly because otherwise he and his family will be homeless.
“The idea of turning the motel into a money-making venture is also a way of improving the asset, which is the town. They have not been able to sell the town. That hasn’t gone well, but if there’s a way of actually improving the asset, it might actually help the sale. All of these little things are just baby steps in a way, in terms of creating and seeing a bigger bang for the buck. It just takes a little longer.”
The family really starts to thrive in Season 3. Alexis (Annie Murphy) gets her GED, Moira (Catherine O’Hara) flexes power on the town council, and David opens his own general store. But in the first episode, Johnny has a breakdown when it comes to discovering his own niche in town.
“I think it’s always a tough thing for this character when things don’t go his way or as well as he hopes they would. He has a very strong sense of responsibility for trying to get the Rose family out of this predicament, and all of these things kind of weigh heavily on him, but he’s also the biggest cheerleader in the group. He’s the guy trying to hold everything together and make things have a less depressing outlook on life while they’re there. That’s been paying off in lovely dividends for Johnny, in a sense that there’s a strong feeling that this family is coming together through all this hardship, and that is a far cry from where it was when they started back in the old days. There are good things happening. Johnny can feel things are kind of percolating in that sense. ”
Many of Levy’s favorite qualities about his character are things written into the show based on real life.
“They’ve incorporated a lot of things into the character that are touching a little close to home,” Levy laughed. “The obsession with food. They’ve written that into the show, which I get a kick out of every time I read Johnny being more distracted by what’s on the menu than what’s going on in conversation. That’s a cute thing. I love how Johnny and the kids, we have these little explosive moments, little tantrum moments, where he gets so exasperated it comes out in an almost screaming kind of way. He just can’t hold in his frustration sometimes when dealing with David and Alexis, same with Roland.”
Roland (Chris Elliott) and Johnny’s dynamic together makes for some of the most hilarious scenes on the show.
“Chris really has my number on the show. He can get me laughing in such a big way. When our two characters get into these interesting scenes, I actually feel it’s almost like a comedy team. There’s a little bit of Abbott and Costello about it, which I absolutely love, being the frustrated straight man next to Chris’s Roland.”
The Straightest Role He’s Ever Done
Levy is used to playing the agitator, the Roland character, if you will, but Schitt’s Creek brings about his most challenging comedic role to date.
“What I love playing about the character is just the fact that for me it’s straightest thing I’ve done in a long time, maybe ever. It’s was a really interesting choice. It’s been a lot of fun for me to play because I’ve spent a career playing these oddball characters, as a character actor myself. My characters were usually kind of broader, and my job was to come in a few times during a movie and get my laughs, and I didn’t really have to burden myself with exposition. This is definitely a different way to go for me, and I’m finding it really exciting.”
Also exciting is the journey the Roses are going on, becoming closer as a family and learning more about themselves in the process. But could they ever go back to their once luxurious lifestyle?
“That’s the million dollar question. Now if you put that question to them right now, they’d probably say absolutely we could go back. We see little signs in past episodes, certainly in the episodes that we’re doing this season [Season 4] as well, where you might tend to wonder whether they could ever go back because the characters are growing in more positive ways. I’m not entirely sure they could comfortably come back to a more shallow lifestyle that they had.”
Schitt’s Creek Seasons 1 and 2 now stream on Netflix. Season 4 returns in 2018.