when Ewan McGregor is Charley Boorman set off on a long-range motorcycle trip through South and Central America late last year, they couldn’t know what they would create: content that could potentially uplift and soothe an audience crazed by a pandemic blockade and various political crises . For McGregor and Boorman, it was just another adventure – their third, in fact, to be filmed for television audiences.
Watching these old friends traverse a huge section of the globe is, for some, a 16-year tradition that began with Long walk through Europe and Asia, then Long Way Down through Africa. The series is a cheeky blend of Highest gear and that of Anthony Bourdain Without reserve, crossed by the easy charm of the friendship between Boorman and McGregor. And now the duo is taking the Long Way Up, departing from Ushuaia, the southern tip of Argentina, and returning to McGregor’s home in Los Angeles.
A couple of devastating incidents for Boorman prompted the duo to reevaluate their friendship and served as an impetus for this latest trip. Despite that dark inspiration, however, the new chapter is an incredibly perfect answer to the difficult times their audience is currently facing. Equal parts escape and deal with environmental and social concerns, Long Way Up represents the ideal opportunity to tune in without disconnecting. Boorman spoke with Vanity Fair on the phone about how this latest and most technologically groundbreaking season came together. It all started with an ambitious idea: electric motorcycles.
When McGregor heard his old friend broke his legs in an accident, he flew to the UK and stayed for a month. Inevitably, Boorman and McGregor’s frequent collaborators, the producers David Alexanian is Russ Malkin, who will be familiar to longtime fans of the franchise, was forced to join them on another adventure, but the crew were wary of doing the same thing again. It was Malkin, Boorman said, who pitched the idea of going electric. No one had ever done this before, at least not at that distance. And with a new production partner in Apple TV +, the sky was the limit when it came to technology.
This gives the new series an air of social and environmental responsibility, not to mention the continuing tension over where and how the kids will receive their next charge. That race against time is further complicated by the fact that Alexanian, Malkin, McGregor and Boorman found themselves starting the race in an unusually cold winter in Argentina. It turns out that e-bikes and electric crew trucks, made specifically for production by Harley-Davidson and Rivian, have trouble keeping a charge in the cold.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Boorman laughed. “We have never really loaded the bikes or really rode. I remember saying to Ewan, “God, does that look familiar?” Many years later, we have learned nothing between the experiences of the last two units. “
That uncertainty, captured in resolute detail by helmet-mounted cameras and intimate late-night video diaries, makes TV incredible. So too are the physical challenges of loading the bikes. The Long Way series has always been largely focused on the people McGregor and Boorman meet along the way, but Boorman stressed that they had to rely even more on the kindness of strangers as each charge required bikers to make their way into people’s homes. , cafes and hotels looking for a plug.
“We were very worried, you know, asking and saying, ‘Would you mind?'” Boorman said. Their path was certainly greased, to some extent, by a production crew that wasn’t afraid to spend money and the star power of Boorman’s traveling companion. “We always paid our way, but no one said no. We’ve plunged houses and restaurants and all sorts of stuff into darkness. Sometimes you plug in and all the power goes out. They wouldn’t say, “Oh, go away.” They would then try to plug it in somewhere else and turn off the ovens so it wouldn’t absorb energy. They were so adorable. “