This article contains spoilers for season three of Emily in Paris.
Lucas Bravo has spent the past three seasons on the Netflix series Emily in Paris as Gabriel, a preposterously handsome chef who has an ongoing, complicated romantic entanglement with Emily, played by Lily Collins. Since the show is from Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City, you could say that makes Gabriel the Mr. Big—only way less of an asshole, and way better at flipping omelets.
And Emily in Paris has proved to be only the start of the 34-year-old French actor and model’s swift romantic comedy ascent. Over the summer, he starred in Ticket to Paradise, as the love interest of rom-com queen herself, Julia Roberts. He’s also in this winter’s The Honeymoon, opposite Maria Bakalova (aka Borat’s daughter).
Ahead of the Emily in Paris season three premiere, Bravo talked to GQ about the wild twist at the end, why men should watch the show, and why he’ll always be a Samantha.
GQ: Are you personally team Gabriel or team Alfie?
Lucas Bravo: I’m team Alfie. I’ve always been team Alfie. I like the antagonism that Alfie brings. Everything bubbly about Emily’s perception of Paris is leveled and balanced by the antagonism of Alfie, and it allows Emily to become more Parisian.
Season three ends with a huge twist. Do you read the entire script ahead of time or are you getting it episode by episode?
Darren is famous for writing the episodes as we’re shooting because he likes to get inspired by what he sees in Paris. So everything is written as we shoot, and we get everything last minute. He likes that process to keep us on edge. He never wants us to be comfortable.
So what did you think when you first read it?
I was shocked. There was this entire phase at the beginning of the season where I didn’t know where Gabriel was going. He’s been kind of tiptoeing left and right. He shifted overnight and I didn’t know why. Darren came up to me and he was like, “Gabriel is not going to be sad and melancholic and lost. He’s going to go for his restaurant, the name on the door, the Michelin star. He’s going to get proactive.” And I was like, “But why? What’s the shift?” [Darren said,] “You won’t know until the end.”
So I had to act a new version of Gabriel, a more mature version, really owning up to things without knowing why. And by the end, I got the grand finale and I was like, “Oh, that’s why. He’s going to be a father, so he wants to create a world around it.”
Once you get that revelation you understand his motivations and why he’s rushing off to marry Camille. Do you think he’s relieved that the wedding is called off?
I think he doesn’t know it yet, but he is. Because I think he gets back with Camille not for conviction but because he thinks that it’s the right thing to do. But doing the right thing isn’t always what your heart wants.
What do people in France think of Emily in Paris?
I think people in France have the same reaction as the rest of the world. We just love to hate and hate to love.
I imagine you must be recognized as Gabriel all the time now. What is the funniest interaction you’ve had?
Well, I don’t go out a lot. When I’m not working I like to be secluded. Silence is a luxury nowadays, so I like to sit in silence. I’m painting a very depressing life.
I think the funniest was the first one I’ve ever had. I was shooting Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris in Budapest. The show had just come out. It was Sunday and I was going to get a newspaper in the morning. And as you go on Sunday mornings, I looked like a poor version of myself. I wore sneakers and I was wearing my pajamas and went to the newsstand. I heard some steps quickening behind me and then someone really grabbed me and stopped me and was out of breath. That person watched the show and wanted a picture. I have nothing to offer! I’m just… sorry, I’m self-deprecating a lot today.
Emily in Paris is heavily marketed to women. For GQ, how would you sell it to other men?
Well, it’s as close as it gets to Fast and Furious. I think the same way I fell in love with Sex and the City, there’s always something to learn in that kind of show. Watching a show like this helps you understand one side of what’s in women’s heads. One tiny side, because there’s a lot going on, and we couldn’t start to understand with our prehistoric brain what’s going on into a woman’s brain.
When I watched Sex in the City, there’s a lot of things I didn’t know. And it’s part of why I loved it. As you grow up in a patriarchal society with toxic masculinity, nobody tells you what women think and what they feel and what is right or wrong sexually or in a relationship. And to see it in a show that is so honest and unapologetic is a good teacher. So to begin to understand women, maybe we need to enjoy what they entertain themselves with.
You made your big US movie debut this summer across from Julia Roberts and George Clooney. What are your memories working with them?
It was the most amazing experience of my life. I couldn’t believe I got that gig. Every day I would wake up completely with an out of body experience. And I think I still haven’t realized that it happened. Whenever I see Julia or George’s name popping on my phone, I have to show my phone to a friend and be like, “Look who’s texting me.”
And you also starred alongside another icon, Isabelle Huppert, in Mrs. Harris.
It was very humbling just to be in the presence of Lesley Manville, who is an absolute powerhouse and such a loyal, true friend. And Isabelle as well. I was raised by a strong feminist figure. To be in the presence of such strong women for three months in quarantine in Budapest, … you just want to shut up and listen and observe and contemplate.
You know what I learned mostly from George, Julia, Lesley, Isabelle, and Jason Isaacs? The greatest actors are also the nicest ones. The ones that are connected to reality and consideration and love and empathy. It gives you fuel for the rest of your career, to learn that you can actually succeed in this industry that can be toxic sometimes.
You’re on a roll with romantic comedies right now. Are there any fundamental differences between a French romantic comedy and an American one?
Well, I haven’t done a French romantic comedy. But comedy in English is more comfortable because the language, the physicality, everything is expanded. Everything is bigger. And so you can really play with your body, you can really play with your tone of voice. In French, everything is leveled down. I grew up with [English-language romantic comedies] and that’s all I watched. It’s 500 Days of Summer and Notting Hill, Love Actually. I feel like it’s part of my DNA.
Your father was a soccer player. Now France is in the World Cup finals. I’m guessing you’re very excited. [Ed. note: Sorry, Lucas Bravo.]
Yes. We were doing The Drew Barrymore Show yesterday and the semi-final was about to start and I didn’t know how to watch soccer in New York. I managed to find a phone from my driver who got the channel and I watched it in the car in between interviews. I finally had time to watch the last 10 minutes in my hotel room and I was so happy.
I love soccer. I mostly love how it brings people together, especially during the World Cup. And it’s a bit of a pinch on my heart to be away from my country while we have a 50 percent chance of winning the World Cup. In 2018 when I was in Paris and we won it was just one of the best nights of my life. The entire city came together and we just walked all night with everybody around you ecstatic, happy, hugging you, chanting, and coming together as one. So once you experience that feeling, you just want more. And you’re intoxicated by the promise of winning again.
What’s your plan for Sunday?
I’ll be in Morocco. I won’t be at home. Part of me was like, “I think I want Morocco to win so when we get there we can celebrate their victory in the country.” But now, I don’t know. I hope we’ll be welcomed as Frenchies.
You’ll have to watch it very quietly. Since you’re such a big Sex and the City fan, which of the four women do you identify with the most?
Oh, I think you know the answer. Same as you. Who is it for you?
Mine is Miranda. Who’s yours?
Oh, you’re Miranda. Oh, sorry, I got ahead of myself. I’m Samantha, I’ll always be Samantha.
It’s actually funny how every time you watch the show you have a different favorite one. The first time I watched it was Charlotte. I was obsessed with Charlotte. It was a moment of my life where this is the kind of structure I identified with. Second time I watched was Miranda because she’s free. She brings something so different. She’s challenging my emotions and my choices and my instincts. Now every time I watch it, I’m at a stage of my life where Samantha is for me. Kim Cattrall is just a comedic genius. And it’s not the same without her. Of course, I’m watching And Just Like That… because I love them. I grew up with these women and they’re part of my life and it’s such a pleasure to see them again. But I miss Kim so much.
Of course, she’s the most fun.
She came to the premiere of Emily in Paris season three in Paris. She was sitting behind me and the screen disappeared. The entire screening I was like, “Samantha Jones is sitting behind me.” But I never gathered the strength to go and say hi. That’s an open wound.
This interview has been edited and condensed.