Lily Collins as Emily and Lucien Laviscount as Alfie in season 2 of 'Emily in Paris.'
STÉPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX—© 2021 Netflix, Inc.
December 22, 2021 7:00 AM EST

This story contains spoilers for season 2 of Emily in Paris.

When Emily in Paris viewers last encountered the titular heroine, she was juggling a demanding boss, the challenges of navigating a new city and some very over-the-top fashion choices. The first season ended with the cheery American (played by Lily Collins) getting entangled, somewhat by accident, in a love triangle involving her neighbor, “hot chef” Gabriel (Lucas Bravo) and his ex-girlfriend/Emily’s friend Camille (Camille Razat). Season 2, which drops on Netflix on Dec. 22, has plenty to offer in the way of this drama. But it also introduces a whole new character—Alfie, a new friend-turned-loved-interest from Emily’s French class—who promises to add some romantic twists.

Like Emily, Alfie is an expat. He’s a British banker who’s moved to Paris for his job. But unlike the wide-eyed protagonist, Alfie is cynical and resistant to the charms of the city. For Lucien Laviscount, the 29-year-old actor who plays him, this character couldn’t be further from reality. Laviscount, who previously appeared in Scream Queens and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, visited Paris for the first time to film Emily in Paris and immediately fell in love with the city. “I was charmed the second I got off the plane,” he says. “Paris has my heart.”

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Ahead of season 2 of Emily in Paris, Laviscount spoke to TIME about giving Gabriel some competition, the challenges of learning French and the part of his personal life that ended up in the show.

TIME: How did you prepare for being a part of Emily in Paris?

Lucien Laviscount: Honestly, it happened so quickly, I really didn’t have that much time to prepare. I was in New York working on some projects when I got a phone call from my manager saying, “Darren Star wants you to read for Emily in Paris!” I dropped everything and sent my audition back within an hour, then was on Zoom with Darren and Lily the next day, and in Paris a few days later. As far as getting into character, Alfie’s role is to capture the sense of being lonely in a city. When you feel like that, you can become quite bitter, which is why he puts up his guard by being defensive and sarcastic. Then he meets Emily, who he really doesn’t take to straightaway. He thinks she’s just a puppet in her world. But he finds out quickly that she’s a boss at her job and she’s doing what she loves. Alfie looks at that and he’s super impressed. Emily opens up his world and gives him this perspective on what life in Paris can be like, and that’s where their friendship blossoms.

Obviously, because of that background, Alfie’s a little cynical when it comes to the romance of Paris, but by the end, he’s fallen in love with both Emily and the city. What was it like for you living and filming in Paris?

It was actually my first time in Paris. It was literally like Lucien in Paris! The city is like a huge museum with the roof taken off—everything is a spectacle. It’s got this mystery and culture and this energy that lifts through it. I was just blown away by being there.

It sounds like you’ve adopted Emily’s attitude about Paris in real life, rather than Alfie’s.

I like to see the beauty and good in most things, until something gives me a reason not to—that’s where myself and Alfie differ. The most amazing thing about shooting Emily in Paris is the producers and the team find the most incredible locations. So, as much exploring as I could have done, I could have never seen Paris the way the show showed me Paris.

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Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) gets the chance to see Paris through Emily's (Lily Collins) eyes. (STÉPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX—© 2021 Netflix, Inc.)
Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) gets the chance to see Paris through Emily's (Lily Collins) eyes.
STÉPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX—© 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Alfie and Emily meet in French class, but she’s a little more enthusiastic about learning to speak French than he is. How did you fare with the language during your time there?

I really struggled, but I’m such a trier. People were so understanding, and I got a lot of smiles and nods, then everyone just spoke to me in English. Hopefully I’ll be back someday—I actually started taking French classes online, so it’s going to get better.

Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) and Emily (Lily Collins) meet in French class in season 2 of 'Emily in Paris.' (STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX—© 2021 Netflix, Inc.)
Alfie (Lucien Laviscount) and Emily (Lily Collins) meet in French class in season 2 of 'Emily in Paris.'
STEPHANIE BRANCHU/NETFLIX—© 2021 Netflix, Inc.

Alfie is a huge English football enthusiast, and he even plays in a recreational league at one point with Gabriel. Are you a big fan in real life? Do you have a team?

I grew up playing. My team’s Arsenal—they’re not doing too great at the moment, but I’ll stand by them until the end. Me and Lucas were always talking about football, and then we got told a month into it that they were putting in a scene of us playing. Our mics were live most of the time, so we had little bits and bobs and they manipulated that into stories. The writers were always on the ball, trying to make things as organic and fresh as they could, so it’s great that it fed into our lives a little bit.

You’re really giving Gabriel a run for his money as Emily’s hot love interest this season. Are you ready to be everyone’s new crush after the season drops?

Really? I just hope I’ve done a good job, more than anything. As for crushes, that’d be lovely—if not, I’ll be fine. I’ll survive, I’ll survive.

Can we expect to see more of Alfie in Emily’s future?

That’s up to Mr. Star. I’m not looking too far ahead for myself. It would be an incredible honor to come back in season three. But if Alfie’s journey is up, then I’m just really thankful to be a small part of Emily’s journey and the show. I met some incredible friends and learned so much.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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Write to Cady Lang at [email protected].

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