When it comes to dream TV roles for an actress, you could argue that it doesn’t get much better than Emily in Paris. After all, the new Netflix comedy (10 episodes premiere this Friday) hails from Sex and the City and Younger creator/hitmaker Darren Star. Plus, the series filmed on location in the French capital, and the fashion is covet-worthy.
“It definitely was an experience I never saw coming,” title star Lily Collins tells TVLine. “When I heard about the show and read the pilot, and I saw that Darren was doing it, and it was being shot entirely in Paris, and when he mentioned to me that [Sex and the City‘s] Patricia Field would most likely be doing costumes, I thought, ‘There’s just no way. There’s no way that this recipe is actually coming to fruition.’ I thought this is an absolute dream and something that I would have binged when it came out. So to be a part of it in this way is so special.”
Below, Collins shares how Emily — a Chicago marketing exec who gets a job at a boutique Parisian firm — compares to Star’s other female lead characters and previews Emily’s busy romantic life in the City of Love.
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TVLINE | What qualities do you feel like Emily shares with the heroines from Darren’s other shows?
Emily is very passionate. She’s very work-driven and determined. She’s very smart, and she’s also witty, with a little bit of sass. Darren has created these characters that emulate all types of personalities, and I love that, because modern women have all these different types of personalities. Darren also makes sure that his women are fully rounded, and they’re in on the joke as much as they are the joke sometimes. Like, Emily is obviously in on the humor of the situation, but at the same time she falls into the situation of being laughed at, and she takes it in stride because she’s strong and resilient. I love the fact that she also has a bit of sass and stuff, too.
TVLINE | Is there any character from Sex in the City or Younger that you think Emily would be friends with?
I think Emily, like myself, definitely grew up loving Carrie Bradshaw. I think she was a huge Sex in the City [fan]. I think she had posters on her walls and things saved in her phone and favorite episodes of shows and movies, and I really believe that when she finds out she’s going to Paris, she does think about all these images she’s seen over the years and characters that she’s watched and loved so much, and thinks, “Wow, it’s now my chance. I get to go and experience this like those characters would have.”
TVLINE | Was there a memorable experience while filming on location that really stands out for you, where something went awry or something unexpected happened?
One of the most special times of shooting was when we got to take over the Paris Opera House and shoot there at night. I was wearing this beautiful gown and this gorgeous headpiece. It was reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, kind of a nod to her. We got to shoot all by ourselves there, and it was just so magical to be running around. When I wasn’t filming, I was just wearing, like, hotel slippers with this ball gown, taking it all in and being like, “This is a dream. What is going on?!” To be able to sit in the velvet seats and be surrounded by that history, and look up and see the gorgeous paintings on the ceiling….
At the end of one night, we een got to go down to the very, very bottom, to the basement, where there’s, like, a water reserve. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s there’s these underwater-like caves that are beneath the Paris Opera House, and there are little fish…. We got to go climb all the way down at like four in the morning and look at that. It was really kind of amazing.
TVLINE | Paris is the City of Love, and there’s certainly plenty of men in Emily’s life. What can you say about her love life and, in particular, the very charming downstairs neighbor who’s also a chef — which is like the jackpot?
It was really important for us to show her as someone who is really going on this journey in the City of Love, finding and loving herself more than anything — and through that journey, she meets all these possible suitors. Some have more comedic endings than others, and some are just fleeting moments that you think, “Oh, this is going to be a series regular”… and then all of a sudden, it ends, and you’re like, “Ooh, and then that just happened!”
Emily’s in a serious relationship when she goes to Paris, and then when she realizes that he’s just not willing to give to her what she would do for him, she chooses herself and her life and her experiences. She goes into this new Paris life as a very independent young woman who is ready to experience life and take on her job and whatever else comes her way.
That being said, as she’s finding herself and having these experiences, she starts to become open to other possibilities, and that comes with work experiences, that comes with friendships, and then, of course, that comes with romance. Because like you said, it’s Paris, and what would Paris be without a little romance? So she finds herself in these funny situations where sometimes the cultural differences or miscommunications [reveal they are] just not the right men for her. She strikes up a friendship with Gabriel (played by Lucas Bravo), and she strikes up a friendship with Gabriel’s girlfriend (Camille Razat) and doesn’t realize it, and so that adds a little wrench to the situation. But I think she’s just looking for herself and what makes her feel whole, and along the way she has these experiences that I think a lot of people can relate to.
What I love about the way Emily deals with them is that she really does put herself first, and she doesn’t question who she is in determining whether or not someone’s right for her. Or if something feels inappropriate or wrong, she says it, and she moves on instead of trying to make a situation work. Because she tried to make the situation work with her boyfriend from Chicago, but realized that he was just not willing to do the same. So like I said, she put herself first. It’s really lovely to play a character that is falling in love with herself first and foremost.