Josephine Bornebusch, Greg Poehler
Thanks to her tenure on Saturday Night Live, her starring role on Parks and Recreation and her multiple gigs hosting the Golden Globes with Tina Fey, it's pretty safe to say that Amy Poehler is one of the most beloved comedy stars on TV today. But her brother, Greg Poehler, is about to give her a run for her money.
In the new comedy Welcome to Sweden, premiering July 10 at 9/8c on NBC, Greg stars as a celebrity accountant named Bruce who drops everything to follow the love of his life to Sweden.
"People oftentimes say I would give up everything for this person, but what happens when you do?" Greg told reporters Tuesday at NBC's Summer Press Day. "This show picks up Day 1 after Bruce giving up his past life."
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The story is based on Greg's own decision years earlier to move from New York to Sweden for his girlfriend, who is now his wife. However, it was only once Greg decided to leave his job as a lawyer and pursue comedy that the idea for the show came about. "I started doing stand-up a little over two years ago in Sweden, which really was the catalyst for this major career change," he said. " It's always something I thought I could do or knew I could do but I thought it was too late. ... I thought I just missed that window of opportunity."
Worried, but not deterred, Greg sat in his attic in Stockholm, Googled how to write a screenplay and wrote the entire first episode of the show. He then sent the script to his famous sister "so she could just check the font and the spacing," he said. Instead, she told him she wanted produce it. "We've had several family members pitch ideas to her over the years unsuccessfully," Greg recalled. "When she came onboard, it was really a stamp of approval early on."
Led by Greg, who is the show's star, showrunner and head writer, the show is shot largely in Sweden and features an almost entirely Swedish cast. Because of that, as well as the fact that the show also airs (and has already been renewed for a second season) in Sweden, the jokes won't be directed at one culture or another. "I try to find universality in humor," Greg said. "We try to find those smaller things in terms of the cultural differences instead of exploiting extreme stereotypes."
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If anything, Amy, who also serves as an executive producer, joked that "American actors come off really bad in this series." That's because in the show Greg's character Bruce plays a celebrity accountant whose egotistical clients include Amy, her Parks and Rec co-star Aubrey Plaza, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and Will Ferrell. Greg also busts out some impressive Swedish thanks in no small part to his wife, who is Swedish. "He learned it for love," Amy said with a laugh.
It's this kind of love that Bruce's character feels for his girlfriend, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) and that both Greg and Amy said will drive the series. "The show is really two things: A fish out of water story for my character who has moved to Sweden rather impulsively," Greg said, "and it's also a love story about these two characters."
Added Amy: "It's about love taking you somewhere else and you not only having to adjust to new a relationship but to a new country."
Welcome to Sweden premieres Thursday, July 10 at 9/8c on NBC.