Lucas Bravo is in between filming the third season of Emily in Paris and promoting his utterly delightful new film Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris when we join for a late evening Zoom call. Starring alongside Lesley Manville, Jason Isaacs and Isabelle Huppert, the French actor is in good company for just his second-ever Hollywood film. Hailing from Nice on the French Riviera, it would seem stereotypical for some to label Bravo as a romantic, particularly after just 15 minutes with the actor. But as the 34-year-old climbs the ranks of cinematic success he looks for the beauty in every moment. Something that shines through his next character.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris follows an ordinary British housekeeper Ada Harris (Manville) in a post-World War II era. Heartbroken after her husband Eddie went missing in action, she travels to Paris to follow her dream of owning a Christian Dior gown. Bravo plays André, a shy accountant from the House of Dior, who strikes an unlikely friendship with Harris and makes it her mission to help him find love.
Here, Bravo speaks to GRAZIA on filming in his home city, what he looks for when meeting someone for the first time (his answer will make you melt) and why he still doesn’t feel famous.
GRAZIA: Congratulations on Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris! Firstly, what do you love most about filming in the French language and in your home city?
Lucas Bravo: “You know when you live in a city for that long, you don’t really see the little things. You just walk down the street with a mission and you go from point A to point B. Filming in Paris brings light on things I don’t see anymore. It revives that idea of what a beautiful city I live in. The feeling stays with me for a few months after.”
From a young age you travelled the world with your family. What did you see in your character and their journey in Paris that you saw in yourself when moving from country to country?
LB: “It’s interesting because I always try to put a bit of myself or my traumas or I resolve things through the character – it’s very therapeutic – and [André] is so shy and introverted. I put a bit of that feeling of not belonging and I used that sensation for his physicality, his shyness.”
What do you believe is the most misunderstood aspect of the French culture?
LB: “There are so many. It’s that feeling of going with the flow and jumping into the pool and learning how to swim afterwards. We just take things for what they are and we don’t complain or try to change it. There’s no anticipation or preparation, we’re very implanted in the present.”
You’re not stranger to working with Dior but what did you learn about the House that surprised you when filming?
LB: “Mostly about [the designer] Christian Dior. I loved the research. It’s the best part of filming to research and get into the intricacies of the character. Looking into Christian Dior, I was so amazed at how private and mysterious this person was. He would come to Paris and interact with that crazy lifestyle, the fashion world is very exposed with lots of people and lots of ideas. He had this second alter-ego where he would go back to his countryside house and take care of his flowers. I really loved the contrast of that and it felt very familiar.”
“When we’re in this industry where we have to be some kind of persona but in the private moments I am very quiet, and I like the calm and serenity of contemplation”
What I loved about the film was the touch of French philosophy from Jean-Paul Sartre who explores existentialism. What do you believe the lesson is for the audience here?
LB: “It would take more than five minutes to talk about Sartre, that’s the purpose of it. But if we take a bit of [the book] ‘Being and Nothingness’, it’s mostly the idea that – like what is said in the movie – things are not what they are not, which means everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be and we should just trust the universe and be in the present.”
Your character André is based on who you were at 18. You said, “I was never able to talk to a girl without thinking that I would be a burden.” With everything that you know now, what would you tell your younger self?
LB: “(Laughs) That’s the kind of conversation you have with your therapist. I think I would tell him that it’s ok, no one has a blueprint to life and that he’s doing his best with the values and principles to navigate this forest of symbols that life is. He shouldn’t overthink things, he’s a good person.”
André’s love interest Natasha is incredibly beautiful and intelligent and he is mesmerised by her presence. What catches your eye when meeting someone for the first time?
LB: “It’s mostly the eyes, you can’t lie with the eyes. Sometimes you meet someone for the first time and whatever the conversation is, there is so much underlining meaning that what you’re saying out loud doesn’t even tackle the conversation you’re having with your eyes. The eyes are everything. It shows how vulnerable you’re ready to be, how honest, it shows your principles and values and how much love there is within you. There’s always a look.”
What do you believe André saw in Natasha’s eyes?
LB: “I think André saw vulnerability. Like I said, he feels like he doesn’t belong, he feels like he’s a bit lost in the world. For me when I created his story, I wanted him to be from a family that really valued that kind of job, the numbers, the money and the stability. But he’s an artist. He did what his parents told him to do and yet he still has this artistic energy and I think he recognised that energy in Natasha and he connects to that vulnerability. She’s also in a world where she doesn’t belong and they connect with philosophy and that shows that everything they represent in the House of Dior isn’t really what they are.”
This is just your second major Hollywood film since your breakout role in Emily in Paris. How have you adjusted to the extra attention or fame?
LB: “I really don’t feel any extra fame or attention. I just feel lucky to have access to more scripts and it really gave me the opportunity to work with people I’ve admired for so long. Life is exactly the same. I think life is what you make it and my close group of friends, my family, everything is the same but I do what I love and I’m grateful for it.”
Lesley Manville is an incredibly accomplished actress. Were there any career lessons you took from this experience?
LB: “The biggest lesson I took from Lesley is that the greater the actor, the nicer the actor. In this industry there is a lot of ego and I think someone of that calibre, that talent, is just all about humans and setting the right tone and the right melody on set. It gives me so much fuel because I grew up thinking what this industry should be and why I started what I do. We can infuse a love, empathy, a consideration in this job because nothing we do is that serious. Also, everything in a scene is about the other. She plays for the other, she puts the other in the light. It’s a selfless process, it’s not about me and my light and my placement, it’s about ‘Let’s make this other person in front of me shine and I will shine through that process’.”
Mrs Harris Goes To Paris is in Australian theatres from October 27.