‘Tis the season for “Emily in Paris,” which returns Wednesday with its third installment to give people the perfect holiday week binge. And while the audience is eager to see what Emily gets up to, season three belongs to Sylvie, Emily’s French boss who was last seen leaving the agency and starting out on her own. Actress Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, who plays Sylvie Gateau, was originally told she was too old to audition for the role, but since landing it has become a fan favorite. Here, she previews the season ahead and explains how French perception of the show is finally improving.
WWD: How does Sylvie evolve over this new season?
Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu: We are going to see much more of her. We’re going to see her vulnerability. We’re going to see her life. Her love life is evolving. Her professional life, too. It’s a lot of stuff happening for a lot of characters in this season, so it’s great. It’s getting much deeper. As usual, with Darren [Starr, the show’s creator], he starts kind of light, and then it…it’s becoming more interesting. I think it’s the best season. Everybody says that, who has seen it.
WWD: What do you like about playing her?
P. L.-B.: Oh, I like her sassiness. I like her “I take no BS” kind of thing. I like her vulnerability. I like that she is a boss, but she’s not one color. She’s multifaceted. We are discovering that she’s so complex, and I really like that. She has a lot of strength and courage, and yet she’s a very tender person deep down. And Darren writes for women in a way that is quite amazing. I don’t think a lot of people write for women like he does.
WWD: Are there any similarities between you and her?
P. L.-B.: When [Darren] chooses actors, he sees things that he’s going to use. He’s going to be inspired by every person’s character. That’s how he writes. Actually, last year, he said, “Do you know why I hired you?” And he said, “Because I liked your vulnerability.” But she’s a very strong character. So I have that in me, and I like people that have armors but have wounds behind that. And she’s obviously somebody who knows herself because that’s the privilege of age also. And so, it makes it super interesting because I’m learning a lot from her. It’s really interesting.
WWD: What are some of the things that you’re learning from her?
P. L.-B.: I think I’m learning about my courage. I didn’t know I was that courageous. And the strength, and also it’s becoming even more clear by playing Sylvie that it’s not a problem to show your vulnerability, show your underbelly. And if you know yourself and if you feel grounded, you shouldn’t be scared of showing that. So that’s super interesting. And I think it’s a life lesson.
WWD: How did you first hear about the show and about Sylvie?
P. L.-B.: A casting director called me and said, “This is not a part for you. You’re much too old for the part, they’re looking for somebody who’s 35, 40 years old, but you should read the sides of Sylvie if you want to read for it.” And when I read the scenes they sent me, I just went, “Of course. I know this lady.”
WWD: What is it like shooting the show in Paris?
P. L.-B.: It’s made me rediscover something about Paris. I think when you live there, you only see the bad sides of the city as usual. And then you realize, yeah, it’s a very precious place. People are not always nice, sometimes they’re very arrogant or in a bad mood or whatever, but still, there’s some magic to the city. And the fact that people think that I’m like a Parisian woman now makes me feel even more Parisian.
WWD: What is the reception of the show in Paris?
P. L.-B.: It’s getting better and better every season. Season one, they were like, “Oh, no, no, we’re not like that.” And now they’re super happy about the show. They love it. In France, we’re much more used to a sort of realistic kind of cinema. So this fantasy that Darren has, people were thrown back by that. They were like, “Oh my God, this is not real. Nobody walks around with those heels around the city.” But it doesn’t matter. It’s a fairy tale.