'Emily in Paris': Lily Collins Dishes on Netflix's Chic New Rom-Com (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
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Tres chic! Netflix's Emily in Parissashays into living rooms everywhere this Friday, and even though the world is at a standstill at the moment, the addictive new dramedy from Sex and the City and Younger guru Darren Star may be just what the (fashion) doctor ordered for a much-needed quarantine escape.
In the 10-episode series, Lily Collins plays ambitious 20-something marketing assistant and social media maven Emily Cooper, who unexpectedly gets the dream of a lifetime when she uproots her life in Chicago for a job in Paris, France. Her new life in the City of Lights isn't one without adventure and mishap, as she navigates the conflicting French versus American ways of life, attempts to prove her place among her French colleagues, makes lasting (and complicated) friendships and embarks on (many) new romances, including one with her hot neighbor, chef Gabriel (French actor Lucas Bravo).
"I hope [this show] gives them a wonderful 10 episodes of escape from the world we're in right now," Star told ET's Lauren Zima. "It's a big romantic comedy. Romantic comedies are always escapes in a sense so I think the escapism maybe is more needed now than ever. Hopefully, we'll all be getting back there soon enough."
"This is a little bit of a workplace show," he previewed. "I wanted Emily to come and have to work with French people and struggle with that and be challenged by that. I didn't want her to be floundering around Paris with nothing to do. She's a character who comes in there and really it's a career opportunity for her. It wasn't her dream to go to Paris, so she's an ambitious girl. And I think thematically with Sex and the City, the idea of celebrating the city the show takes place in -- Sex and the City celebrated New York -- this show certainly celebrates Paris."
With the coronavirus pandemic halting international travel for much of the world, Collins -- who is also an executive producer -- reflected on how quickly things can change in a short period of time. (The majority of Emily in Paris was shot on location in and around Paris in the second half of 2019.)
"This time last year we were in Paris in crowds of people. Every morning, the three kisses good morning. You're touching. You're with your crew and cast 24/7. It's a thing of the past and it feels foreign and it's weird, but it's also nostalgia for the world it was and the hope for what it will be again," Collins told ET. "To have this be something that comes out in a time when A) we're craving content, B) we want to travel and C) everything is very much intentioned-based now. I think that this show really deals with finding oneself in a foreign environment and we've all come far too acclimated to our environments right now, right? I'm just happy to be a part of something that hopefully provides wish fulfillment in travel aesthetic purposes, as well as optimism. Emily's optimistic and passionate and she's had to pivot a lot in her experience and that's something all of us can understand right now is pivoting and finding ways to stay ourselves and creative and laugh and smile. I actually think that everyone needs a little bit of Emily right now."
The 31-year-old actress, who recently got engaged to longtime love Charlie McDowell, related to her character's rocky journey during these first 10 episodes "a lot," especially "her optimism" -- even when Emily found herself in personal and professional straits.
"I'm someone who tries to make the most of every situation and likes to overcome obstacles instead of complaining about them and that's very much Emily," Collins said. "She's passionate about her work. But I don't think she understands, as she's going through it, how much of a moment she's having. She experiences these things, meets new people and is learning to love herself in a new way in this foreign city. She starts to get it. If we're lucky enough to go to a season 2 there might be more of that that she gets to experience. But for me, I learned so much playing Emily. She brought so much love and light and optimism into my life by getting to play her. The experience of shooting it was so memorable in Paris and all of the friendships and long-lasting relationships that I solidified and made there. That to me is one of the most important takeaways is that at the end of the day the experience of it was magical."
Of course, Emily in Paris being a Darren Star production and all, there are plenty of trips to the romance department. While Emily gradually finds her place in the French city, her first and most significant love interest is Gabriel, who instantly makes hearts aflutter by his unassuming, humble and kind nature. (Oh, and it helps that he's a gem of a cook.) Things between Emily and Gabriel get complicated fast.
"I'm so excited for Lucas. He's really talented and he's really very kind and humble and he's funny and goofy. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised by how goofy he can be and I'm just excited," Collins praised her co-star. "It's the perfect platform for him to be introduced and we got so lucky with every cast member on this. Everyone really were their characters."
"You know, I have no idea. I try not to think about it," Bravo, who worked as a sous chef at a restaurant prior to Emily in Paris ((his favorite meal to cook is coconut curry risotto gambas with a Chateau Margaux wine to pair, for the record), humbly answered when ET asked about the possibility of a Netflix boost on his social media. "I'm lucky enough to get back to work [in October] for a movie, so I'm trying to focus on work. And honestly I just hope people are going to enjoy the show as much as we enjoyed making it. It was such a blast. It was the kind of moment where I knew that this was why I chose this path and it was so much fun, honestly."
Even after the cameras stopped rolling, Collins and Bravo shared that the cast and crew often went out on the town for Parisian wine dates as a group. Because, why not?
"We're shooting in these incredible locations so if you're at Cafe de Flore you're like, 'Let's just go to this table and everyone can celebrate ending work,'" Collins said. "It's the most perfect opportunity to mix business and pleasure in a city where everything’s at your fingertips."
In one of the scenes, where Bravo and his co-stars were filming in Paris, they stumbled upon a wine tasting. So, they took advantage of the opportunity. "We discovered that there was a wine tasting happening next door so here I am with Ashley [Park, who plays Emily's friend Mindy,] and Darren, everybody tasting wine and buying boxes of wine. 'Oh, you should try this one. Try this one.' And that little moment of madness and right after that, we went right back to set ready to work," Bravo recalled. Only in France!
Throughout the series, Collins wears several chic outfits, all from the mind of legendary costume designer Patricia Field.
"I wanted to steal every single outfit of Emily’s, I'm telling you right now. My closet was quite dreary in comparison when I got home," she admitted. "I loved the Paris Opera House because of the look but also because of the history of where we were and being able to shoot in that environment and being able to run around the set with hotel slippers on at the end of the day. It was a magical moment... Patricia really taught me a lot about mixing patterns and colors, and just being bold and bright and owning it. That's one of the moments I think that Emily did that."