Glittering like the bright lights of the Eiffel Tower, Samuel Arnold continues to dazzle us in Netflix’s smash series Emily in Paris.
Samuel Arnold has taken on the role of Julien in Netflix’s series Emily in Paris for the past two seasons with a self-awareness that truly warms the heart. It’s instantly apparent from speaking with him how much he cares for the character and what he represents. His passion is palpable, his smile infectious and his energy could light up a room. It isn’t lost on Samuel just how many eyes are on the show and who may see themselves in the character he portrays. A young, ambitious, talented black man, who wants to win big in his career. He handles Julien beautifully while balancing the responsibility of representation. And as the show progresses into season three, we get to see more of his story unfold.
Not only is Emily in Paris responsible for catapulting him into stardom on one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world, but it has also afforded him the opportunity to flex his own creative muscles behind the camera. Samuel credits the show for opening so many doors; from new opportunities and projects to traveling the world. Much like the character he plays, there is a fire that simmers beneath the surface, an insatiable hunger for what comes next. And though he states that he and Julien aren’t that much alike, they do, however, share the common thread of wanting to succeed. While Emily in Paris centers around the ups and downs of Chicago marketing executive, Emily Cooper, the show is very much a trojan horse in Parisian packaging. Housing a glittering array of characters just waiting to be explored.
In conversation with 1883 Magazine’s Dana Reboe, Samuel discusses his hopes for Julien, the makings of a short film, his favorite marvel superhero, and teases what’s to come for Emily in Paris season three.
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How’s your day going so far?
Amazing. I arrived in New York last night. So, this is my first morning here.
Is this your first time there?
I’ve been once a couple of years ago.
Cool! I’ve only been once myself. Just for eight hours but I fell in love with it.
Me too. I love this city. It’s a bit cold though.
Does Paris get cold? Or France in general?
Not that much. Here is… violent. [both laugh].
So, to jump into it – going into season three, what are you most excited for the audience to see?
I feel like this season, we get to explore a bit more. We get to dive into the personal life of the supporting characters, including Julien. We get to see Julien in another light, and we get to see another side of him. Less funny. More dramatic, which was very, very nice to work on. I’m really looking forward to the audience seeing him stand up for himself.
I’m so excited to see that. How has Emily in Paris changed your life?
Well, it was always a dream of mine to work on an American TV show or American film. You know, I trained in the UK, thinking that it would be a bridge to the US. Landing this role has allowed me to be in an international American show, broadcasting on one of the biggest streaming platforms in the world. So, professionally – it changed everything. I have so many opportunities; big auditions, and I have a full American team. It opened so many doors… it’s a dream come true.
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Congratulations! I can’t wait to see how far you go! Without spoiling too much, can you describe Julien’s journey from season one up until we see him in season three? How has his relationship with Emily changed?
The first time we see Julien, he is kind of comedic relief, you know? He serves as a guide, and rival to Emily. It’s all friendly. And it’s all love. Everyone is a bit mean to her and stuff like that [laughs]. It’s light in the beginning. And then in season two, we see that Julien cares for Emily, and views her as a friend. He’s an ally, basically. And in season three, we see their relationship evolve, we see the rivalry is still there. But… it’s not as friendly as it was in season one. [Oh, no!] When you have a real friend – they’re the ones that can hurt you the most. And that’s all I’m going to say.
I won’t dig too deep then [both laugh]. Julien is very quick-witted. He’s sharp and always has a comeback, which I love. What’s a trait you share with Julien and one that you don’t?
I feel like I’m very far from him in life. But I think the main thing I share with Julien is – we’re two young men working in an industry and trying to make it. I’m going to even go as far as to say: we are two young black men working in a mainly white industry trying to make it and trying to fight and to win. That’s why I like the way Darren Starr tells these stories. It’s so superficial on top, but when you dig a little deeper there are all these social problems he’s addressing. Some people see the show as just an entertaining thing, but some catch on and get touched by the stories. I like the way he does that. It feels effortless.
Paris is its own character on the show. What is it like for you as a local to experience Paris through fresh eyes? Do you have any spots or hole-in-the-wall restaurants or nonconventional landmarks that you could recommend to somebody coming to Paris for the first time?
I’m going to be a little boring here, but I think all the tourist spots are amazing. The parks, the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero [Gardens], the Champs-Élysées, all those places. If you’ve never been to Paris, go there! Paris is a museum. There was this thing I used to love to do with my friend when I was younger, we would buy food and drinks and go on the riverbank with a boombox and blast music – stuff like that. It was lovely.
Do you want to switch? You can come to Toronto, and I can go to Paris.
Definitely. One hundred percent [both laugh]. I’m done with Paris. I’m ready for the world now!
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Now that Emily in Paris is set to premiere at the end of December, what’s next for you? What does a typical day look like when you’re offset?
I don’t really have a typical day as an actor, I’d say. I am producing a short film and it’s my debut as an executive producer. Honestly, who told me to do that? It’s so much work [laughs]. It can be very tough. But I’m still auditioning and in discussion with several projects – which, fingers crossed will come to fruition. I’m basically living a dream, like going in between countries for work, and for personal projects, and being called for other projects. And now promoting Emily in Paris in New York, and we did Paris last week. It’s intense but it’s a blessing. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Can you tell us a little bit about this short film?
I wrote a massive script, I put my heart into it. It looks like a feature film. And I was like – I am not starting with that. Too big. So, then I created a shorter story that will unfold in Paris, of a young man who’s struggling and who’s going to have a crazy night. It’s a short film, and I’ve got a good team around me. We have a good writer, a good director, and a French production company. I’m looking forward to being on set because pre-production is hell!
Are you going to be posting some behind-the-scenes on Instagram?
Yeah, one hundred percent! I already have an independent camera crew that will come on set and create content so I can share that with the rest of the world.
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I can’t wait to see that come to life! So, speaking of Instagram, I did some digging yesterday. I saw that you assembled with the Avengers at Disney Land Paris. Do you have a favorite Marvel superhero? And is there a Marvel project you would like to be a part of one day?
Yes! My all-time favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I’ll tell you why. It’s something that Stan Lee said when he spoke about the character, and I realized that’s why he was my favorite growing up. He said that Spider-Man was entirely covered up so any kid, any little girl, any little boy, any color, anyone, could play and say, ‘I’m Spider-Man!’ Everyone could relate to him. So, Spider-Man has always been my top superhero. But my top comic book would be X-Men [Yes!] Like, I could be an X-Men. I don’t know which one, but I’m sure there’s at least one guy I could play.
Which X-Men would you want to play?
Okay, promise you won’t laugh?
Spike, who’s Storm’s nephew. He’s a black man with blonde hair and he’s got spikes coming out of his body. And there’s also another one that I would love to play… just because I’m French: Gambit.
I knew it.
Remy LeBeau. I could do it. Who knows? I heard Channing Tatum was supposed to do it. I’m not going to compete with him [laughs].
But I think you have him outmatched because you already have the French accent. Just get on the phone with Marvel, talk to Kevin Feige and make it happen.
I’ll just text him after this and let him know I’m ready for it.
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Continuing with Instagram. I particularly loved the photoshoots you did with IKR Magazine and Faust. Those outfits were beautiful. I have to ask: who has the better fashion sense, you or Julien?
Honestly, Julien. The difference between Julien and me is that I have no rules. I will wear something because it’s beautiful and comfortable. And I don’t care if it’s not supposed to be worn like that. I think a good outfit is an outfit that you feel comfortable in no matter what people think. Julien knows all the rules of fashion. He knows everything. He will never do something crazy. Everything will make sense in the fashion world. I’d say he’s the most knowledgeable. He also has a bigger closet.
What is your biggest hope for Julien going forward?
I would love to see more of Julien’s personal life, with his family, his friends, and him at the club. See the world of Emily in Paris through his eyes. Just for a little bit. And, for him, I really, really want him to win professionally. Everybody asks me: when is Julien going to have a romance? The show’s already about romance. I’d love for Julien to make it – big time. This character represents something to certain people, and I would love to see them see him win.
And lastly, describe the new series in five words.
Surprising. Fashionable. A lot. A lot [both laugh]. Cliffhangers. And positivity.
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Season 3 of Emily in Paris is streaming now on Netflix.
Top Image Credit
jacket & shirt King and Tuckfield shorts Holzweiler
Interview Dana Reboe
Photography Annemarie Sterian
Styling Suzie Street
Grooming Kieron Lavine
Production Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P
Photography assistant Robert Bogdan-Roth
Location Shutter House