I can go on and on about the joys of Emily in Paris, but I’ll spare you the essay and give you my short and sweet review: Come for the feel-good storyline and jaw-dropping fashion and stay for Lucas Bravo. I promise you won’t regret it. If you already binged the bubbly Netflix series, then the French actor needs no introduction. But for those less acquainted, Bravo stars as the heartthrob next-door neighbor, on-the-rise chef, and complicated love interest named Gabriel. The piercing blue eyes, the accent, the ability to cook a perfect omelet… swoon. Show creator Darren Star (see also Beverly Hills 90210, Sex and the City, and Younger) definitely knows a leading man when he sees one.
After appearing in a string of French films and TV shows followed by a commercial for Chanel, Bravo has made his official American debut in Emily in Paris and stolen the hearts of stateside fans faster than you can say "Je t’aime.” Captivated by his charming nature, strong sense of wanderlust (just peep his Instagram), and mountain-man sartorial aesthetic, I wanted to know more. So following a virtual photo shoot, I set out to get to know Bravo a little better. Is he as captivating as his on-screen counterpart? Absolutely. Can he cook as well as Gabriel? Sort of. Did he have as much fun in the Emily in Paris fashion warehouse as his female co-stars? All signs point to yes. Keep reading for my full interview with the actor.
Emily in Paris is your first U.S. project. What stood out to you about the show when you first read the script?
I think the first thing I heard was that Darren Star was thinking about doing a show about Paris. I’m such a fan of Darren. I love his work. He is such an icon. So I at least wanted to have the opportunity to read it or know what was going on. To know our city, Paris, was going to be filmed with an American perspective—with Darren’s perspective—was so exciting that I really wanted to be a part of it.
The chemistry between you and Lily Collins is palpable. I was definitely rooting for you two the entire time! Did you get a chance to spend some time together before filming?
It’s a good question because I was added I think a week before it started. For my character, [casting] took quite some time. I auditioned maybe four or five times. I remember I was trying to get over it because the answer wasn’t coming and I didn’t want to overthink it or be disappointed because that happens so much in this line of work. I was in the South of France on this island called Corsica with a shepherd helping him make goat cheese when they called me. So I went back to Paris to meet with Darren and Lily and our director and producers at Paramount. I was so nervous that I started talking about the only thing I had been doing for the last week, which was helping the shepherd make goat cheese. So here I am talking about goat cheese at this interview that was pretty, pretty important, and I just remember leaving the room being like, "Oh my God, you just talked about goat cheese for a half an hour.” But once we were in the room, we did a couple of scenes with Lily and it suddenly clicked. Two days after that, they called me, and that was it. We bonded pretty fast on set because she is very approachable. She is the nicest person—so professional and giving. When you play a scene with her, she makes it so easy and so organic. You just have to follow her lead.
I spoke with Ashley Park, who plays Mindy, a few weeks ago, and she told me the running joke on set was that it’s more like Ashley in Paris because she was experiencing Paris for the first time, just like Emily. It sounded like you two had a lot of fun outside of filming.
It’s always funny when Ashley is around. She is the life [of the party]. She arrived on set and was talking to everybody and connecting with everybody. Honestly, it’s a privilege to have her on set. She makes it effortless. Basically, the first day she arrived on set and I met her, she thought I was a prop guy standing by the RV. And she was like, "Hi!” all very nice, and she went into the grooming room and was like, "Who is the hottie outside?” That is how we met. It’s a good memory. One night she was like, "Do you want to show me around?” I was like, "Hell yeah, let’s do it!” And we had such a fun night that we actually kind of moved in together with Samuel [Arnold], who plays Julien. We were roommates for the rest of the shoot for like two months and it was really fun. We are all very close now.
So what is a must-do in Paris for anyone traveling to the city for the first time?
My recommendation would be to go to Parc de Buttes Chaumont, which is our Parisian Central Park. It’s so lovely. It’s just amazing. For some reason, it’s not the first thing people recommend when you come to Paris. It’s always the more cliche places that define Paris, but Parc de Buttes Chaumont has different hills where you have little restaurants and a cave and this big lake and animals everywhere, and you can see all of Paris once you are at the top and it’s magnificent.
Your character, Gabriel, is a talented chef. How are you in the kitchen?
I love to be in the kitchen. I cooked a little a few years ago. I was working in this restaurant as a bartender and in the kitchen as a sous chef. The sous chef was gone and I just asked to be a part of it just to learn more. With food, there is an infinite amount of possibilities. I just wanted to be able to welcome my friends with unexpected dishes. I have a few skills, but then again, the last time I was saying that so much we did this thing for Netflix where we were supposed to cook, it was like this cook battle between Ashley and I, and we were supposed to do an omelet like they do in the show. I ended up burning the omelet and cutting off my finger and bleeding all over the place. So now, I’m trying not to say too much about it because I crack under pressure.
The fashion on the show is a character in itself. What was the sartorial story for Gabriel?
I think, first of all, they didn’t want him to be too edgy. They wanted the fashion to fit his personality, which is a down-to-earth lost French boy who wants to make it on his own. He works in the restaurant business, so they didn’t want him to be too fashionable, but they still wanted him to have color. You know, with Lily and Camille [Razat] and Ashley and all those amazing outfits everybody has in the show, we didn’t want him to be too gray or colorless, so we had to find an in-between. I walked into this big warehouse where Patricia Field and Marylin were waiting for me and they were like, "Okay, pick what you want. Pick what you feel like is Gabriel, and we will adjust together.” So it was just a day at the chocolate factory. Being part of the process was amazing. And I’m just Gabriel. Can you imagine for Lily, Camille, and Ashley just walking through that warehouse with all of the gowns and amazing haute couture fashions? It was really a thing.
What is your personal relationship to fashion?
I love fashion. I’m a caveman, so I’m not really into fashion events and stuff like that, but I love this opportunity to reinvent yourself every time. I get very easily tired of what I’m wearing, so I keep reinventing my style. I can be casual, I can be a hippie, I can be classy. I just like to follow my instinct and moods.
You have been to Burning Man a few times, which is an anything-goes fashion environment. What have been some of your favorite looks from that event?
It’s funny because the first year I went was in 2014 and we didn’t have that many pictures. It wasn’t so Instagrammable and I didn’t even know where I was going. I was excited for the adventure and to get lost, but I didn’t know. So I started kind of reading stuff that [said] it was in between Coachella and Mad Max, and I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I ended up pretty much wearing nothing. The rule of Burning Man is what would you wear if there were no rules. So you see all of these people flourishing and becoming themselves, and the more you advance into the weekend, the more the costumes are organically amazing. People don’t even think about it. It’s like, "Oh, you gave me that shirt because I was cold, and I gave you this, and then that guy gave me a bracelet.” I feel like you should do it once in your lifetime. At least once.
What has been a particularly noteworthy style moment for you in your career, either on screen or on the red carpet?
I haven’t done many red carpets, as I told you, I’m kind of a caveman. I don't know. It’s a good question. I feel like I’m a citizen of the world. I’ve been traveling a lot. I don’t have one particular style, but I would say going back to Burning Man, the outfit I enjoyed the most was this jacket I found—this kind of colorful kimono. It’s hard to describe, but it was really colorful, and I felt all day like I was going to do an important event. That’s probably the outfit I felt the most comfort in.
Now that you are about to break it big in the U.S., what’s next for you in your career?
I’m really hoping to challenge myself. I feel like I have some stories to tell and some emotions to experience and I really hope I get to tell passionate, difficult stories—something I will not get out of without wounds. I just want the opportunity to get lost in a character and go deep in his emotions and what he is feeling and where he’s coming from. It’s a search, and the search, for me, is one of the best parts when you play a role. It’s to know what causes him to be like this, why is he reacting like that. It’s so interesting and infinite.
Photographer: David Higgs
Grooming + Styling: Lucas Bravo
Jessica Baker is Who What Wear’s Executive Director, Entertainment, where she ideates, books, writes, and edits celebrity and entertainment features.