While everyone else was bingeing Emily in Paris, Lucas Bravo was avoiding it. “I don’t really like to watch myself, because I’m pretty hard on myself,” the French actor, who plays dreamy chef Gabriel in the Netflix comedy, tells BAZAAR.com. “Where anybody would see a funny scene or something cute or anything, I just see all the [faults] and all the things I could have done better.” He feels differently about the series though. “I love the show,” he says. “I thought it was great and was so proud of it, but I cannot watch myself.”
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Now, while quarantining in Budapest, Hungary, on the set for his next film, Bravo is conveniently detached from the full-on digital discourse Emily hath wrought. Though some have found solace in the campy Darren Star–created series in the midst of a strange year, others have found it to be frivolous and clichéd. (Is Lily Collins’s Emily even a good influencer? Why are her French coworkers stereotypically stuffy?) Some French critics even found the series “insulting.” As an actual French actor working on the show, Bravo understands the feedback, but he stands by the series—it’s supposed to be unrealistic.
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“Yeah, there’s a bit of truth everywhere,” he says of the critique. “I think everybody’s entitled to his own opinion. And Paris is, as I said earlier in previous interviews, it’s very diverse, and there’s many stories to tell. So you have to choose an angle, and Darren shows his vision from when he was in Paris as a teenager. … It’s filled with comedy. [He] wanted for people to escape the crazy reality we’re all in right now. Some people like reality a little too much, which I understand as well, but otherwise, it would have been a documentary about Paris. And this is not what this show is. So I understand both points of view, I respect them.”
Perhaps something both camps can agree on is that Bravo is the heartthrob of the moment. If you scroll past the hot takes and complaints on Emily in Paris, you’re bound to find reactions like the following.
“I just feel grateful for the attention and the love,” Bravo says humbly of his—and Gabriel’s—new fandom. He felt a genuine connection to his character, and not just because he was an actual sous-chef a few years ago. “[He] was originally supposed to be from Nice, where I was born. And Gabriel had always been a name I really liked. I always told myself I would give my daughter or a son the name Gabriel.” Bravo saw it as a sign.
The actor is already making moves post-Emily. He’s currently filming his next project, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, starring Oscar nominees Lesley Manville and Isabelle Huppert. “I’m still pinching myself every morning going to set,” he says. His dream collaborator though? Denzel Washington. “I could probably end my career right after collaborating with him,” he says. “I’d be like, ‘Okay, check!’”
Though Bravo is spending most of his time quarantined in his hotel room (and abiding by health guidelines), being in Hungary means he’s not subject to the recent lockdown and curfew rules in France. “I’m actually pretty glad to be away,” he says, relieved. “Timing couldn’t be more perfect.”
Here, the breakout star details the influx of messages he’s received from fans and his hopes for a possible Season 2 of Emily in Paris.
What do you think are some common misconceptions that Americans might have about French people?
I lived in L.A. for five years when I was really young, and I saw what people thought of Paris and French people. I didn’t see many preconceptions. I thought they were pretty spot-on. Of course, for the ones who never left the States, they’re still riding this old cliché. But, you know, those clichés are real, and they’re here because they exist, and they’re part of the charm. Even though French people don’t want to admit it, this is us. This is really us.
What scene was the most fun for you to film?
I wouldn’t say fun in terms of, it’s a funny scene, but fun to shoot, was probably my last scene, which is the scene where I say goodbye to Emily, because I’m supposed to go to Normandy. And I was really connected to that moment. Lily gives you so much, and pretty much all you have to do is react to the emotions she’s sending your way. So, it was really fun, because it felt really organic. And at the end, when the scene was over, I had to come back to myself and I … it’s one of the scenes where I felt more connected to Gabriel’s essence.
Did you have an experience like that, where you had to move away, in the past?
Oh, yeah. My entire life. I’ve been travelling every two years. My parents were travelling a lot, and I had to reinvent myself in every city and country I was visiting. So, yeah, it definitely rang a bell.
It’s almost like you were an Emily.
[Laughs.] I’ve definitely been an Emily. Yeah.
There were a lot of little innuendos in the script when it came to food. Were there any moments where you were filming when you guys just couldn’t keep a straight face?
Oh, I think one of the funniest scenes we had to shoot was the one with Gérard, Camille‘s naked father. We shot the scene at the pool with Emily, discovering him naked, afterwards. And we started with the scene where he comes back from the pool, and I’m like, “Oh, have you met Gérard?” We knew the part because we read the script, but we hadn’t met the actor. And when he came in with his robe and his champagne bottle and this energy, we couldn’t keep a straight face. We really would laugh at every take and be like, “Wow, he is so perfectly cast. This is amazing.” And Christophe [Guybet], the actor, is quite funny in real life as well. So, it was pretty hard to go through that scene.
That sounds amazing. The finale kind of ends with a cliffhanger. Where would you like to see Emily and Gabriel’s story go from there?
I think this is a question Darren needs to answer, because he started this drama and I wouldn’t dare touch any of his work, because he’s so good at it. All I can tell you is that I hope that all of them will find a point of happiness and understanding, because there’s much to be discussed.
Is there anything that you would like to see from Gabriel if there was another season?
I hope he’s going to get a brand-new restaurant where he will be able to bloom and do what he wants. Because he was still a little constricted in the old one. I just want to see his creative mind at work in a new place, backed up by Antoine. And in terms of relationships, as I told you, Darren is orchestrating everything, and we’re just playing the instruments.
There was a love triangle throughout between Gabriel, Emily, and Camille. Is there anything you discussed with Lily and Camille Razat about what you wanted to convey with these intertwining love stories?
Well, I know that Camille really made a point to play Camille [the character], as if she knew what was going on [between Emily and Gabriel].
She really played that card and left everything open. She planted the seed so anything could happen in Season 2. And I knew Camille from the previous project, right before Emily in Paris. So we were pretty much like brothers and sisters. And Lily, we just connected on the first day. The last audition I had, I got into a room and we did a couple of scenes, and we instantly bonded. She’s so giving and generous that it’s hard not to get along with her. She’s a professional. And I was honestly a better actor and a better man after working with her.
Because Emily is an influencer, social media has a big presence on the show. Are you a big social media or Instagram user personally?
Not really. No. I like to post a little artistic picture once in a while. Instagram was more a way to communicate with some friends, like being on WhatsApp or anything else. But now, it’s different. I have quite a few messages. I don’t know if I can keep up. So it’s a bit overwhelming. But I like the attention. It’s always nice to feel validated and loved, and I’m trying to navigate this to the best of my abilities.
You mean messages from new fans and people who watch the show?
Yes. Mostly. Because my Instagram wasn’t so crazy before that.
And do you take the time to read all of it, or do you just kind of take it for what it is and let it sit there?
You know, people always tell me not to get absorbed into this black hole of answering everybody, because it’ll be endless. But since the show just launched and it was so well-received and I got so much love and respect and good feedback, I feel obligated, in a way, to give back as much as possible to the fans, because they’ve been amazing and it wouldn’t be possible without them. So I’m just doing what I can, but, you know, it would take more than one person to answer all those messages.
Looking through a lot of the reactions on Twitter and Instagram, you’re, like, the Internet’s new favourite romantic love interest and boyfriend. Is it uncomfortable to feel like more eyes are on you? How are you dealing with all the attention?
I think the timing couldn’t be better, because I’m in Budapest. I’m in my hotel room in quarantine, I’m going from set to my room, and I’m pretty isolated. I don’t really feel what’s going on. It feels pretty surreal when my friends tell me, “Everybody talks about you,” and stuff like that, because this is not my reality at the moment. It’s very virtual to me, you know?
So I just feel grateful for the attention and the love. It’s very humbling, because it happened so fast. I cannot feel any different. It’s just been over a week, and my life is still the same and I still feel the same. But it’s quite a journey.
What do you think Gabriel’s Instagram would look like if he had one on the show?
That’s a good question. I think it would just be posting lots of recipes and maybe just stories with memes and stuff like that.
And are you still in touch with your Emily in Paris costars? A group chat or anything like that?
Yeah. We pretty much talk every day.
It is really hard to travel right now, but would you hope to do a reunion eventually?
We talked about it with Ashley [Park, who plays Mindy] the other day. Because it’s so weird to experience such positive feedback and reviews and people talking about the show when we cannot all be reunited. I would have loved to fly anywhere and find all of them and just have dinner and talk about it. We’re all isolated and experiencing this, in the comfort of our own homes, but by ourselves. We’re trying to find the countries where you can actually fly to and that are still open, where the borders are not closed, and just meet each other halfway. We’re still working on that.
If somebody is about to dive into the show for the first time, what would you hope that they get out of it?
I really hope that they will get a big sense of traveling and escapism, especially now, because we’re all glued to our apartments and quarantined. I got many messages from people telling me, thank you. “Thank you, because I was having a shitty day.” “I was having a bad week, and then I just finished the show in one sitting, and I escaped from my mind, from my obligations, from the reality of this world.” And this is the best possible compliment. I really hope people continue feeling this breath of fresh air.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US