The final episode of a six-part series “Welcome to Sweden” will air Friday, April 13th on Kanal 5. The show features Richard Kiel and Verne Troyer as they were whisked around Sweden in a bus on a two-week whirlwind tour of 12 Swedish cities. Kiel is best known for his role as Jaws in the 1977 Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me.” Troyer made his name as Dr. Evil’s “Mini-Me” in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999).
Producer Joachim Brobeck, whose company Jarowskij made the series, says they invited Kiel and Troyer to Sweden to give Swedish viewers an opportunity to see themselves through others’ eyes. “The whole idea was to bring someone over to look at our traditions and culture in Sweden from a different perspective.”
In addition to Kiel and Troyer, the show’s cast includes tour guide Micaela Moreno, tour leader Patrik Sandberg and photographer Pär Gullström.
Moreno, whose day job is as a Visual Merchandiser for the Italian clothing brand Fornarina, told The Local Kiel and Troyer had never met before getting on the plane to come to Sweden.
Although Kiel had been to Sweden before while promoting his Bond movies, Troyer didn’t know much about Sweden before he stepped off the plane. “The only thing I thought I knew was the Swedish Bikini Team. Which I found out isn’t real,” he said in an interview with Kanal 5.
Kiel, at 2.18 m tall, and Troyer, at 81 cm, certainly make an odd couple. In addition to the height difference, they are polar opposites in other ways. “They live different lives. Richard spends time with his grandchildren while Verne hangs out at the playboy mansion,” says Moreno.
Both Kiel and Troyer have mobility problems and used scooters during the tour. “I could really see before I met them that it could be hard for them to get around, but the second I met them and started talking to them, they were such professionals in every aspect,” says Brobeck.
“As soon as we turned on the cameras, they were right there delivering,” he says. “They are two of the easiest people I’ve ever worked with in all of the productions I’ve been involved with.”
During the tour, Moreno gave the stars briefs about different Swedish traditions.
“All of a sudden we just took off on this tour. We had a tour schedule and they gave it to me. I thought that since I’m going to be a guide, I should look some of these cities up. So I googled every city. Then I couldn’t remember what I’d read about what city, so I ended up making up everything anyway,” she says.
“They had absolutely no idea what we were going to do that day. We told them to be in the hotel lobby at 7, and then we told them that now we are going to this place to do this thing. They had no time to prepare themselves or anything,” Moreno says.
Kiel and Troyer experienced everything from a 1st of May parade in Eskilstuna (ironically, in January) to the Vasaloppet in Mora, where they raced on their scooters. Kiel won the race, but according to Moreno: “Verne claimed that Richard’s scooter was rigged.”
They also had the opportunity to sample the wonderful Swedish delicacy of surströmming. As Kiel puts it: “They brought out that large tin of rotten fish and opened it and it started to gurgle like it had been fermenting and then this horrible aroma filled the air and Verne, Micaela and Patrik were almost throwing up when they ate some. I was smart enough to just pretend I was eating it and to just take a bite of the cracker the fish was on instead.”
Even through surströmming was supposed to be a “typical” Swedish tradition, Moreno admitted she had never tried it before the show. “I translated it as ‘grumpy fish. But it’s not grumpy, it’s rotten,” she says.
She claimed that “everyone eats this” and was then forced to eat her words – literally. “I trapped myself. I had it for the first time,” she says.
The crew also took the boat to Finland and Kiel and Troyer learned about the art of the Swedish “fika.” When asked what Swedish tradition he’d take back home, Kiel said, “I can’t remember what you called it but when you are quiet and drink coffee and eat seven kinds of cookies.”
And Troyer finally got to meet a faux version of the Swedish Bikini Team.
“On the last night we had a party at the King’s Castle and Patrik (who was our guide for the trip) had about 4 to 5 bikini models show me how to play a board game in Sweden, it was something to do with buying land and harvesting your crops to make money. I can’t read Swedish and the girls didn’t really understand the game. So we just talked to each other about Sweden and other things while they were in their bikini tops,” he said.
Moreno says that working with Kiel and Troyer was the experience of a lifetime.
“Richard was like sunshine, as long as you gave him food in the morning.”
She became such good friends with Troyer that she plans to visit him in California. She hopes to convince Kanal 5 to send her to LA to do an MTV Cribs-like feature on his house, which has been adapted for little people.
Brobeck, who has also worked on other reality-TV shows such as Robinson, says Jarowskij will show “Welcome to Sweden” at the Cannes Film Festival in May. “We will try to sell it as a format for bringing Richard and Verne as a team to other countries, such as Welcome to the Czech Republic or Welcome to Iceland. We will also try to see if there is interest in airing the show abroad,” he says.
For those that missed ‘Welcome to Sweden’ the first time around, Brobeck says there will also be an extra episode aired later in the spring featuring deleted scenes.
The final episode of Welcome to Sweden will air on Friday 13th April at 9:55pm.