‘Emily in Paris’ Star Samuel Arnold Reveals Who He Thinks Emily Should’ve Chosen & It’s Not Who You Expect

Sophie Hanson
Emily in Paris, Samuel Arnold
Photo: Image: Netflix. Adobe. Design: Sasha Purdy/StyleCaster

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Emily in Paris season three. Samuel Arnold is running a bit late, his publicist apologizes. He’s just returning to his hotel after meeting his Emily in Paris castmates atop the Empire State Building for a photo op and you know how New York traffic can be. It’s the second time Arnold, who plays the sassy and opinionated Julien on the beloved Netflix series, has visited the Big Apple, but like so many visitors, he felt a strange sense of familiarity. Cities like New York don’t feel so foreign when you grow up watching Hollywood movies.

“When I came the first time two years ago, I literally felt like I was on a movie set and everyone was an extra. I had my own Emily in Paris moment,” Arnold tells StyleCaster as he logs onto Zoom, a mere 30 seconds after our scheduled interview time. “That’s what I think the show portrays so well; that experience of a foreign person in a new or in an iconic city.”

It’s that very notion of seeing Paris through a naïve outsider’s eyes that initially attracted the scorn of critics and Parisians alike. Ce n’est pas possible that a 20-something from Chicago would be sent to France for work when she doesn’t speak a lick of French; she’s offensively overdressed in designer clothes and under-educated on local culture. But the show’s creator Darren Star (Sex and the City) isn’t exactly renowned for his dedication to realism—quite the opposite—and it’s for that reason Emily in Paris was an immediate hit with fans. The first season of the show came at a time when fantasy and escapism were so desperately needed: October 2020, nine months into a global pandemic that would halt travel and life as we knew it in its tracks. And besides, wasn’t the surrealist movement born in Paris?

Samuel Arnold

Image: Courtesy of Splendide Visua.

When the show was nominated for a Golden Globe the following year, it was controversial. Arnold concedes there was some validity to the Golden Globes backlash, not so much that Emily in Paris had been nominated but that others had been overlooked. “I think that there were good reasons for people to be angry,” Arnold reflects, “but I understand that actually has nothing to do with Emily in Paris… I like to defend the show and my character because there was no character like me in Sex and the City, so I only see the positive side. I don’t really have time for backlash.” Soon after however, many of the Emily in Paris detractors changed their tune: “Fine, Maybe Emily in Paris Deserved That Emmy Nomination” read one headline. They’d finally realized that Emily (played by Lily Collins) and the cast of colorful characters were all delightful caricatures in pretty outfits; it didn’t need to be any deeper than that. With the show’s hotly anticipated third season having just arrived on Netflix, Arnold reflects on reuniting with the entire Emily in Paris cast in what would be their first big premiere in the show’s history and weighs in on who Emily should have chosen out of Alfie and Gabriel.

The premiere in Paris was really the first time you’d been able to celebrate together as a cast and crew because of COVID. What was that experience like?

It was not only the celebration of the third season but a celebration of the entire journey. Because we haven’t been able to do a proper promotion or even a premiere for seasons one and two, because of COVID. I feel like Netflix and everyone involved really went all out to celebrate and it’s just such a nice reward because we’ve worked so hard on that show for three seasons now. And we’re getting the reward that we all deserve for creating such a nice story.

Let’s talk about Emily and Julien’s relationship because, in the beginning, they were competitive. Then in season two, a real friendship formed. Now we’re back to being competitive. How do you feel about how their relationship has evolved?

I feel like this rivalry was always there. I think that Julien always felt threatened by Emily because he’s always been the colorful character in the office—the fashionable one, he’s a very loud and very dramatic character and then she comes and brings the exact same energy. But the rivalry thing also always be there has always been there, even if it wasn’t too serious at the beginning. And I think that this season, it’s going to get more serious. It’s the fact that when you have real friends, they’re the ones that can hurt you.

Emily In Paris, Samuel Arnold

Image: Courtesy of Netflix.

In the third episode of season three, we finally get an answer as to who Emily chooses romantically out of Alfie and Gabriel. Who do you think she should have chosen?

Personally, I think that she should take time off dating and choose herself. She needs to decide where to live, to be stable at work and then focus on healthy relationships because nothing about what’s going on right now is healthy. That’s my personal view. But healthy relationships are never fun to watch.

At the end of the first episode, Emily gets fired by Sylvie for basically cheating on her with Madeline. Have you ever been fired?

No, but I have been asked to resign. Before Emily in Paris, I was doing some acting jobs, but I was working at a restaurant in South London. When COVID happened, obviously restaurants were closed and I stayed at my sister’s place in Paris. Even after season one, I was still working there on weekends. And everyone was telling me, “You can quit now” and I kept saying no because I enjoyed it. So, the restaurant called me to say “Samuel, you really don’t need to work here anymore and since you’re not coming back to London any time soon, can you just resign?”

That’s the best way to get fired.


You’ve said you think Julien is a bit of a player. Will we ever get to explore Julien’s love life?

I hope not and I’m going to tell you why. This show is a romantic show, it’s all about love. We have these amazing characters and I would really love for Julien to find something else. A young man like him is trying to win in his professional life and the industry he’s working in. So I’d like to see him become a boss man. Do you know what I mean? I’ll leave the romantic side of things for Emily.

Emily in Paris, Julien

Image: Courtesy of Netflix.

I feel like there would be a great buddy comedy with Julien and Luc because you and Bruno have such great chemistry. Maybe Julien and Luc in New York?

Yeah! In New York! That would be pretty cool.

OK, Netflix, are you listening?

Let’s keep suggesting it.

Fashion is such a big part of the show and Julien’s wardrobe is particularly amazing. Do you have a favorite outfit from season three and have you kept anything for yourself?

So, before I answer that, I’ll say that every single outfit that I wore this season was spot on. But there’s one outfit that I love particularly because it felt like something I would wear in real life. It was a black suit with white birds on it. I really like that outfit. But I don’t keep anything because I feel like if I’m wearing this in my personal life, I feel like I’d be cosplaying as Julien.

Emily in Paris is available to stream on Netflix. 

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