Season 2 of Emily in Paris came to an end with everything up in the air. The core team at Savoir— Sylvie (Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), Julien (Samuel Arnold) and Luc (Bruno Gourey)—resigned, leaving Chicago-based executive Madeline (Kate Walsh) to fully take reign and Emily (Lily Collins) deciding if she should embrace her Paris life and join Sylvie at her new marketing firm or stay loyal to Madeline for a promised, though potential promotion.
With the Dec. 21 return of the Darren Starr series on Netflix, audiences will see everyone is in for big changes. In particular, Samuel Arnold is most excited about how we’ll all get to know Julien and Emily’s other friends and colleagues better. It’s not “just one liners,” he explains over the phone to Los Angeles Confidential just days before the season 3 premiere.
A native Parisian, Arnold began his career as a professional dancer and later expanded his talents by also acting. He now calls London home when he’s not filming for Emily in Paris, where has been seen at the National Theatre in Anthony and Cleopatra.
Read on for more from Arnold about the new season, why Julien developed a friendship with Emily and how he incorporates dance into the show.
You now have three seasons as Julien under your belt. What have you enjoyed most about the role?
From day one I really like the fact that Julien is a free agent. He will make you feel the way he wants to make you feel either with what he’s saying or the way he looks at you, and he's just not afraid to speak. And that's something that I really enjoyed from the character who’s so free in the way he moves and the way he dresses.
[In season 3,] We get to dive a bit more into the character of Julien— not only Julien, all the characters are in way more detail and we get to learn a lot about them… It's not about being comedic relief anymore or just one liners. It's a real storyline, and it's a guy who's trying to make it in the industry.
Fashion is very important to the show. Do you ever collaborate with the wardrobe department on Julian’s looks?
Yeah, 100%. So the way Marylin Fitoussi works is we are not trained to make the character look good, even though he does and we have so many beautiful clothes. But we're trying to make sense of the story and trying to make sense of the characters. Marilyn really wanted to make sure that we were comfortable with what we are wearing and that it makes sense with the way we act and play our characters. So there’s many options that, to her, make sense for the character. And then with her we say, “Personally, I think that Julien would wear this at the office today” or like, “He would wear that at the party today.” Within the limitations of what Marylin gives us, we get to be creative with her.
Why do you think actually filming in Paris is key to the show— could the magic of the city be captured through a set?
No, I think that is actually one of the most important things and one of the most valuable things that we have on show. And I think that's something that was very, very important for Darren was to actually shoot on location with real places and real moments of real iconic places in Paris and stuff like that. The series is called Emily in Paris, and it adds to the authenticity and to the beauty and to the magic of the show because to try to extract the magic of a place like Paris, I think it’s better to be there.
When the show first starts, Emily has a hard time with her colleagues. But by season three, she has friendships with them. Why do you think Julian has warmed up to her?
I think personally that the reason why he was a bit bad with her at the beginning was the same reason why he likes her. I think he views himself through her. Julien was the only loud, colorful fashionista-drama queen in the office. And then this American girl came in with her colorful outfits, and he just felt threatened. But in the end, he’s like, “Oh. She’s like me in a sense.” I think he likes that, and I think he really respects her as well, professionally. Everyone that works with her in the show, everyone at some point in the series just realized how good of a worker she is and how clever she is, and you can only respect that.
You’ve said you define yourself not as an actor, not as a dancer, but as an artist. How has that benefited the way you approach your career?
Well, it just takes away limitations. For example, I think with Julien, the way I worked on the character was really physical. I really put a lot of dance into it and I really listen to a lot of music. And obviously I watched a lot of movies and I'm inspired by conversations and by colors and basically everything that surrounds me. This is where I'm saying I'm not an actor or dancer, I’m an artist—obviously I'm an actor, obviously I'm a dancer. But I just say that to take away the limitation. When I work on a character, I can bring so much more. We can eat something one day and the taste can make you feel something and we can bring that feeling into a character. It is so wild and limitless that I feel like the word “artist” is more suitable for me than anything else.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Courtesy of Netflix; Cr. Stéphanie Branchu/Netflix