Sixteen years after they first set out on a 20,000 mile motorcycle journey across 12 countries, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are once again hitting the road in Long Way Up.
Following Long Way Round and 2007’s Long Way Down, this time around McGregor and Boorman are venturing up – from the tip of South America and through Central America to Los Angeles. To make things more difficult, er, interesting, they will be completing their 100-day adventure on electric motorcycles.
With the series moving to Apple TV+ and the first three episodes available for press, Long Way Up reconnects McGregor and Boorman (son of Deliverance director John Boorman) after the friends lost touch in the intervening years between their road trips, during which Boorman suffered a serious motorcycle accident. The intervening years did little to the duo’s delightful friendship as they pick up right where they left off from Long Way Down, one of the key selling points of the series.
Like its predecessors, Long Way Up is part road series, part travelogue, easily attracting fans of motorcycles, road trips, travel, and of course, the Moulin Rouge star. Reuniting with the original series’ cameraman Claudio and directors/producers Russ Malkin and David Alexanian, the premiere episode focuses on the eight months of required preparation to not only map out the route and tackle the practical side of a 16,000 mile journey, but also that of a major production with moving parts and unknown obstacles.
Part of the allure of the road trip is the decision to do the entire trip with electric vehicles, for both McGregor and Boorman as well as the production team. Outfitting prototype Harley-Davidson bikes and electric SUVs from Rivian, the unknown functionality factors into the drama of the series. The practical challenges that come with depleting batteries, lack of charging stations and brand new technology are just part of the journey. Add in the frigid temperatures and late spring snow in Ushuaia, and this is unlike anything the riders have encountered before.
The idea to switch to the electric vehicles isn’t one of vanity, but a challenge to see how these future transportation rides function and as a way to tie in to sustainability – McGregor practices what he preaches, converting his old VW Beetle to an electric engine and frequently comments how electric vehicles are the way of the future. Even with the best intentions, the riders face unforeseen difficulties, putting them behind schedule.
Aside from the thousands of miles of pavement (and dirt roads) covered in the 10-episode series, McGregor and Boorman visit nature reserves including visiting penguins in the wild, glacier lakes and the Amazon rainforest. The first three episodes showcase the stunning vistas of Chile and Argentina and the remote communities that call the area home.
Long Way Up delivers more of the same unfiltered excitement and fun as the previous series with candid “diary cam” addresses from McGregor and Boorman as well as the production crew and colourful characters they meet along the way.
If the first three episodes are a taste of what’s in store for the rest of the season, Long Way Up is a highly enjoyable ride. Though they currently aren’t available to stream online, both Long Way Down and Long Way Round are available on DVD, as well as books that see the two friends recapping their journeys.
Long Way Up debuts on Apple TV+ on September 18.
McGregor previously spoke about the trip back in March during an appearance on The Tonight Show, explaining the issues they ran into with charging the motorcycles.
McGregor and Boorman also detailed their adventures on the electric bikes and previous accidents in an interview with ET Canada.