For veteran comedic actor Eugene Levy, starring in “Schitt’s Creek” (debuting on the Pop cable network Wednesday) is truly a family affair. After all, not only does Eugene co-star with his real-life son, Daniel Levy, but he also reunites with an actress who’s long been a part of his professional “family.” Catherine O’Hara, who plays his wife, has worked with the senior Levy in many other projects, most notably “SCTV” and such films as “A Mighty Wind” and “Waiting for Guffman.”
In a recent phone conversation, Levy said there was one word that summed up the whole “Schitt’s Creek” experience: “I’d say surreal pretty much describes it.”
The show was the brainchild of Daniel Levy, who writes, produces and stars as his real father’s onscreen son. It represents “the first time we’ve actually worked together,” said Papa Eugene.
Levy, of “American Pie” and “Bringing Down the House” fame, plays the patriarch of the fabulously wealthy and very spoiled Rose clan — who lose everything in a tax scandal that wipes out the family’s video store empire and all of the family’s assets.
The only thing left is the town of Schitt’s Creek, which the Roses had bought on a lark back when they were rich. The Roses are now forced to rebuild their lives in the small, rural community they own — but with which they have nothing in common.
“There are times when I’m in a scene with Daniel and where I do think this is hitting pretty close to home,” Levy said. “Lines sound like things that could easily happen in real life.”
Levy said the first couple of days seeing his son doing scenes with O’Hara was also surreal. “But in the end, we all love what we’re doing, and it’s going great.”
Levy noted that the comedy has both old-school roots and modern sensibilities.
“I think the fish-out-of-water scenario is always a funny scenario for a comedy going all the way back to ‘Green Acres’ or ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ or ‘My Cousin Vinny,’ ” he said.
“Going back to the spark of the idea for Daniel, he realized that there’s a connection to all of the reality shows on TV today. So many of those shows have given the television audience such an awareness what it’s like to live with money. They are seeing firsthand those amazing, luxurious homes and how the families that live in them relate with each other. We are now a fly on the wall inside these very wealthy homes. It makes you wonder, what would happen if one day all the money is gone and we were still a fly on the wall?
“At it’s core, the show is really about the Rose family learning to work together and act as a family — which is a totally new experience for them,” Levy said. “In their other, wealthy life, they weren’t what you would exactly call close. In that world, money solved every issue. There wasn’t a lot of parental guidance going on when the kids were growing. You simply slapped some money down and the problems would go away — or so they thought.
“Now that they are stuck in two adjoining rooms in a motel, they really have to learn how to work to survive and have to learn how to function as a family.”