It’s October 14 and Lucas Bravo is sitting in a Budapest flat scrolling through Instagram. Since the release of Emily in Paris at the beginning of the month, the latest Netflix series from mega-creator Darren Star, Bravo’s popularity has exploded. He went from around ten thousand Instagram followers to well over a million in just a few days and messages of support have been pouring into his inbox from all over the globe. While he’d love to meet his new fans in person, Bravo is currently quarantined inside his rented Hungarian home until he can return to set for his upcoming film Mrs Harris Goes to Paris — and thus, the endless Insta-scroll continues.
“It’s hard, you know?” Bravo starts with a happy huff. “All your friends tell you, ‘Don’t get sucked into your phone and try not to reply to everybody.’ But I have a lot of time on my hands, and it’s just so flattering, and I feel so grateful.” He chuckles. “I’m just so humbled by all this. I want to be able to give back as much as possible.”
Emily in Paris sees Bravo playing Gabriel, Emily’s (spoiler) chef neighbour-turned-lover. Gabriel is an object of desire from the moment he hits the screen, and over the past weeks, audiences have fallen for his accent and charm right alongside the titular lead. Such a role suits the actor perfectly; a model and former sous-chef with a naturally chipper demeanour, Bravo seems to be as close as one could get to the real-life Gabriel.
While the series is Bravo’s first American production, it’s not his first flirtation with the USA. He’s previously lived in Los Angeles, has attended Burning Man on more than one occasion, and even took a journey to Alaska to visit the abandoned bus once occupied by Chris McCandless, the subject of the book and film Into the Wild.
“I found the bus after three days and lived in it for a little week,” he reveals. “When I saw the movie, I think in 2009, I was in shock… I was already transported by the movie, but when I saw the picture of the real Christopher McCandless, I was so touched by this adventure that I promised myself I would do it one day. It took me ten years, but one winter, I booked my ticket and I just went there.”
The experience of living in the bus sounds miserable — “30 degrees below zero. I couldn’t really sleep,” he remembers — but the mere fact that he went at all speaks to his powerful sense of adventure. Bravo loves to travel, and with Emily in Paris, he hopes he can bring the joy of globetrotting to viewers who have found themselves unable to leave their familiar surroundings due to the present pandemic. “I’ve gotten many messages from people telling me, ‘Now I want to go to Paris.’ And this is the best compliment because that’s really what Darren wanted,” the actor explains. “People tell me about how the show allowed them to travel and feel better. This year has been really hard on everybody, and I’m glad to have these positive stories and cheer up people. It’s a great feeling, and I’m very proud to have it.”
While the series shot on location in Paris, the production was handled largely by Americans — a fact that Bravo says imbued the experience with an almost mystical feel. “You really discover your own city through someone else’s vision, which makes you a tourist in your own city,” he says. “I love being able to change my perspective on things that are in front of me, and the show definitely did that.”
But working with Americans had other benefits, he adds. “We have this tendency in France to cut off budget-wise on a lot of little details that we think are not relevant or are just a luxury. But I think Americans really get every single aspect of this industry, and that’s what makes it so interesting and so beautiful. You still have that Hollywood feel from the fifties where everything is perfection to the highest level, and it allows you to really experiment with your character and do your job in the best condition,” Bravo explains. “It was pretty magic, honestly. The set was very dreamy.”
This American influence is not without its detractors. Some members of the French press have said the show is overwrought with clichés and paints an inaccurate picture of a large and diverse city. As one of the series’ lead French actors, one might think the weight of such a criticism would be heavy on Bravo’s shoulders but when prompted with this critique, Bravo does not hesitate to shoot it down. For him, Emily in Paris is simply a celebration of the city through a single perspective. “It has to be a little exaggerated in order for the comedy to work,” he reminds critics. “[But] Darren actually lived in Paris. He’s telling a story through his own experience. What makes Darren’s shows so successful is the fashion, the love, the colours, and just the enhancement of every aspect of the city.”
“There are so many stories to tell about Paris,” Bravo continues. “We just chose that vision.” Still, he confesses that the show’s jokes and gags aren’t all rooted in exaggeration. “It’s pretty true. Everything that [the show] puts in the spotlight is true and it’s happening. And I’ve been a part of the cliché many times,” he admits.
What adventures will a second series of Emily in Paris bring? “It’s a tough question,” Bravo remarks. “I think we’ve planted seeds throughout season one, you know? Camille is pretty ambiguous about her relationship with Emily, and I still have things to deal with Camille and Emily… But [Emily’s] not done with the struggle. There are still so many things you can encounter in Paris.” He laughs. “It’s Darren’s problem now.”
While season two is yet to be announced, the strong fan response hopefully means that plenty more episodes are in store. Bravo remains optimistic both about Emily’s future and the other places his experience on the show might take him. “I really hope this brings me more opportunities because I love my job and I’m so grateful to go through this journey,” he says. “That’s all I want, you know — to be able to give back, to be recognised for my craft, and to transmit as much love and respect as I can. That’s it. When you have this attention and following, you feel like you start having a voice, and I really hope I can make it meaningful.”
‘Emily in Paris’ is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer here.
This Schön! online exclusive has been produced by
photography. Josephine Leddet
fashion. Coline Peyrot
art direction. Mohéli Hamidi Oliva
talent. Lucas Bravo
grooming. Alan Antoine
photography assistant. Chloé Le Reste
fashion assistant. Maud Landré
hotel. Hotel Maison Albar Pont Neuf
words. Braden Bjella