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True Story of ‘Modern Love’ Episode 3
Cecilia Pesao got on the train from Paris to Barcelona in February 2020, and there was a man in her seat. She asked him to move. It was a six hour train ride, and she needed the outlet so she could work. But they soon got to talking—they got a coffee together, and flirted a bit. Ultimately they decided not to exchange numbers after the long ride, and instead would meet back up in Paris a couple weeks later. Then, a pandemic hit.
Cecilia wrote the story out in a few short sentences, and submitted it to the New York Times as a Tiny Love Story. It was published in April of 2020, as the pandemic raged on. Then, the Times called and asked if she might be interested in Amazon Prime Video adapting it into an episode for the second season of their hit anthology-style series Modern Love based on the column of the same name. She said yes.
Cecilia’s story is now Episode 3 of the series, entitled “Strangers on a Train.” The episode takes some creative, romantic liberties with the real story of what happened—in reality, Cecilia’s train companion found her on Twitter a few weeks after the pandemic foiled their meet-up plans, and they exchanged numbers then. They haven’t spoken for a while though, as they don’t live in the same country, and as of August 13—the day Modern Love Season 2 lands on Amazon Prime—Cecilia has yet to tell him their little love story is going to be in a TV show. Or, you know, that Kit Harington is playing him. Below, she tells Esquire the real story.
Lucy Boynton and Kit Harington portray Cecilia and her train crush in Amazon’s adaptation.
Esquire: Have you seen the episode yet? Do you know what happens in it?
Cecilia: No! I don’t know how they developed my story, I don’t know anything.
So what happened on the train that day?
Well, I was living in Paris at that moment, and I had to come to Spain for work. I took the train. It was February of last year, before the pandemic. And when I got to my seat, a guy was in it, so we started arguing about that. But the train was six hours long, so we started talking. And we connected, completely unexpectedly because I was expecting to work during the trip, and I had some books to read and it was not my plan to talk to anyone.
It was really nice. We started talking about our lives, and we went to the cafeteria to have a coffee, and then I found out he was living in London at that moment. He told me at the end that he would be back in Paris in a few weeks and we could reconvene then. So I said okay, let’s do that. And then one week after, we locked down, so I was locked down in Paris and he got locked down in Spain.
So you didn’t exchange numbers?
No, we didn’t. But he contacted me on Twitter. He found me and he wrote to me, so that’s how we stayed in contact after. I was in Paris and he followed me to send me a message that he was stuck. But we were not sure how long Covid would be. So then we exchanged numbers and we started talking, but we never met again.
I see. So in the episode, we don’t know if they ever found each other again. Lots of suspense!
That was my question about the episode. He knew my last name somehow, so he found me.
Does he know that you wrote the Tiny Love Story?
No. I didn’t tell him.
Do you think he might find out after the episode comes out?
I don’t know. Maybe I should tell him, but I haven’t. I don’t know!
How would you feel if he saw the episode and reached out to you?
I mean, I don’t know how the episode changed the story, but from what I read in the brief, they used exactly what I wrote. So he might realize that it is about him. I don’t know, his character is played by Jon Snow, so I think he would probably be proud of that. If I were a boy, I wouldn’t mind having Jon Snow interpret me.
So you’re not in contact with him anymore?
Oh, no. We stayed in contact last year for a few months, but we never saw each other again, and I don’t know what he’s doing now. I moved from Paris to Spain, too, and I don’t know if he’s still living in London or if he’s moved. It was difficult because we never saw each other again.
So you don’t think you’re going to tell him about the episode?
I don’t know, maybe after today? I think it’s nice. I would like to know if it were the other way around.
Read the rest of the true stories of ‘Modern Love’ Season 2 here.
Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire, where she covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow of an expertise on Netflix dating shows.
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