Emily in Paris Heartthrob Lucas Bravo on Adjusting to Fame in Quarantine

The French actor opens up to PEOPLE about what it's been like to become a sex symbol overnight while quarantined in a "lonely hotel room" in Budapest

lucas bravo
Photo: Alessandra Huynh

Say bonjour to your newest celebrity crush, Lucas Bravo.

The French actor, 32, stars opposite Lily Collins as her dreamy downstairs neighbor, chef Gabriel, in the popular new Netflix series Emily in Paris.

While the très binge-worthy show — filled with clichés of life in the City of Light, mouth-watering croissants and steamy sexual tension between Gabriel and Collins' titular Emily — has made Bravo a star both at home and abroad, his newfound fame has barely sunk in.

"I'm in my lonely hotel room," he tells PEOPLE over video chat from Budapest, where he is currently quarantined while shooting his next project, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. "I'm just going from set to the hotel and back and forth."

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For the time being, Bravo says that he's trying "not to pay too much attention" to the buzz around his charmant portrayal of Gabriel, because he "want[s] to stay focused on the movie" he's there to film.

"The show just came out and there's a lot of attention," he says. "But at the same time, I'm just very lonely in my room. So it's really weird to navigate these two contrasts at the same time."

Lily Collins and Lucas Bravo in Emily in Paris. STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX

Alone in a city that he can't explore due to COVID-19 precautions the Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris cast and crew are adhering to, his current quarantine looks different than the version he experienced at the start of the pandemic, which he says was "all about doing nothing and not feeling ashamed about it." Now, "I feel like it's a mix of being grateful to be working when everybody's struggling and just a feeling of such loneliness. It's weird."

While he may be isolated in real life, fans are showering him in praise online — even while critics, particularly French ones, have taken issue with the show's cliché depictions of Paris and its inhabitants.

"Of course, with the way the show is received, I cannot escape it," he admits. "But I'm just so happy and grateful and it's very humbling to see how people are responding to it. I understand all the critics — I am French, I know what they feel, how they feel and why they would feel that, but it's a positive feeling."

Although he's yet to have many fan encounters in person, he says that online they've "been very respectful." Humbly, he adds, "It's also weird to call them fans because it's an overnight thing and it's people just enjoying the show."

"I feel grateful because they're very respectful — I heard it's another story on Twitter but I don't have Twitter, it's a little messier on Twitter," he says. "But on Instagram, people are just talking about the performance, about how they were able to escape from this crazy year we're all having, and just telling me that they enjoyed Gabriel's portrayal, so it's really great."

RELATED: Emily in Paris' Lucas Bravo Responds to Show's Critics, Teases Season 2 — 'We're Portraying Clichés'

Out in the real world, Bravo says he was recognized on the street during the one occasion that he managed to enjoy lunch out at a restaurant in Budapest.

"I think two women my age recognized me," he tells PEOPLE. "It was the first time, so I didn't really know how to navigate this," he continues, explaining that the women attempted a classic sneak attempt at a photo-op. "One of them just, you know, changed spots and sat with her back to me, and the other one took a picture of me."

"You get self-conscious — it was the first time and I didn't know where to go," he adds. "And the weirdest thing happened. It was launch weekend [for Emily in Paris] so I was checking my Instagram and I was tagged in this Story. I looked at it and it was the video of them, so I saw myself having coffee from their perspective and it felt so meta. I was like, 'Okay, wow, that's a lot to take in.' I mean, it's flattering but at the same time it's very strange."

While many more real-life fan interactions are surely on the horizon for Monsieur Bravo, he's taking things one step a time. "I feel like by the time I'll be done shooting this movie, which is late November, things will settle down and I'll be able to come home to Paris to a normal life — I hope."

Emily in Paris is streaming on Netflix.

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