Sunday Funday

How to have the best Sunday in L.A., according to ‘Chevalier’ star Kelvin Harrison Jr.

An illustration of Kelvin Harris Jr. with a TV, pool floats, the Win-Dow window, French toast with syrup, and a board game.
(Samuel Rodriguez / For The Times)

In Sunday Funday, L.A. people give us a play-by-play of their ideal Sunday around town. Find ideas and inspiration on where to go, what to eat and how to enjoy life on the weekends.

Actor Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s work has taken him around the globe. He traversed the small Sicilian island of Ortygia that looked hand-plucked from a painting in the musical romance “Cyrano”; he re-created decade-defining music in Queensland, Australia, as blues legend B.B. King in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis”; and in “Chevalier,” his latest starring role, the actor transformed himself into real-life violinist, composer and fencing prodigy Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, while filming in Prague.

Set in 18th century France, the Searchlight Pictures film, which was released April 21, follows the virtuoso as he grapples with a visceral longing for both his humanity and his musical prowess to be fully seen and honored, while navigating a friendship with Marie Antoinette that grows rocky, a forbidden romance with an opera singer and the ceaseless racism he’s known most of his life as a biracial Black man in France in the 1700s.


The script makes it clear Bologne was a total rock star, says Harrison of his decision to take on the role. “I was fascinated by his journey. I was never able to look at a classical musician as a rock star,” he says, reflecting on playing trumpet, violin and piano as a kid and being surrounded by musicians while growing up in New Orleans. The actor’s musical roots run deep as the son of a jazz vocalist mother and a classically saxophonist/music teacher father whose musical résumé includes playing a concerto with the New Orleans Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra while in high school and training under Ellis Marsalis, of the Marsalis Family, also known as “the first family of jazz.”

To envision Bologne as a Jimi Hendrix- or Prince-like figure was “really cool and sounded like a fun task,” Harrison continues. “I just wanted to dive in and see what that would open up for me.” Despite the frequent traveling that accompanies his work duties, which included returning home to New Orleans for extensive training under the tutelage of his father, Kelvin Harrison Sr., while prepping for “Chevalier,” Harrison says there’s a particular delight in coming back to Los Angeles after long stretches away on location.

When it came to unwinding after hours of rigorous classical training nearly every day, one rejuvenating activity in L.A. became a favorite: taking a therapeutic drive to Malibu every now and then. “I was making a lot of playlists [for the different characters in Joseph’s life]. The Marie-Josephine playlist was the best for a drive,” Harrison says. “You pack your snacks, a case of waters, some mango LaCroixs, some sandwiches, roll the windows down, take a break, feel the sun and just drive. I’d listen to PJ Morton. He has this album called ‘The Piano Album’ — so beautiful.”

Harrison guides us through how he’d spend his ideal Sunday in L.A.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.

8 a.m. Start the day with a workout and breakfast

I like to start the day with a workout and then get breakfast. I order in too much, and it can get exhausting after a certain point, so I’d definitely go for a sit-down brunch with friends. I’ll have a good coffee, orange juice, water, and I’ve got to order French toast. I love it. I’m obsessed. You know the crunchy French toast where they take the frosted flakes and sprinkle it on top? Sooo good!

If I’m in the mood for a quick breakfast, I’ll go to Go Get Em Tiger in Los Feliz. They have really good breakfast burritos.


11:30 a.m. Get a massage, facial and mani-pedi

I love to get a massage — a deep-tissue massage, a Thai massage. I love to go get a mani-pedi, a brightening facial to look like I’m alive, and I’ll get extractions to remove all the nasty buildup. I love stuff like that.

I’ll get a massage at the Four Seasons — 60 minutes if I don’t have a lot of time; 90 minutes is ideal. Usually I’m playing characters that I need to be fit for and I end up overdoing the workouts, so a sports massage is nice too. I tend to have a hard time falling asleep, so that’s kind of the only time I can get in a proper nap. Sometimes it’s good for my muscles to just get a stretch and get some care because I’m always either sitting on planes or at a desk these days for work. The feeling after a massage doesn’t last for long, but it’s a nice reset for my body. I feel loose. It feels like an upkeep thing, like getting your car washed.

12:30 p.m. Pool and Jacuzzi time with friends

I like going to pool parties with friends but only if they have food, because I’m mostly going to eat. Otherwise, I would rather swim with like one to two people max. I just like the feeling of being in the water and bubbles in the hot tub. I like the smell of sunscreen and saltwater. I like catching up with friends and just melting off my stress from life.

On an ideal pool day, sunscreen bottles are laying in the grass, Burna Boy is ringing through the speakers, burgers are on the grill — or maybe I ordered, who’s to say — and the sun is hitting just the right amount. I’m not trying to burn, so it’s like 72 degrees out, and we’re all chilling in the pool, just wishing we were fish. There’s lots of sparkling water in the mix; some floaties as well. And we talk about everything! But most of the time we’re doing bits that we archive in case “SNL” ever calls. Or we roast each other. Or a jam session breaks out.


1:45 p.m. A trip to Erewhon or Whole Foods and meal prep

I’m going to Erewhon or Whole Foods to pick up some steaks and grill ’em and make some veggies, some yams, some sweet potatoes. I’ll have lunch and then I’ll go inside and probably turn on “Big Brother.” If I’m eating out and craving something like a really great burger, I love to go to the Win~Dow in Silver Lake. If I’m more in the mood for Italian food, like pasta, I love Speranza.

6:30 p.m. Dinner and board games with friends

A lobster-spinach risotto would be really nice. Going out too many times in a day feels like I’m on vacation in a weird way, so I would cook a proper meal. And then I know I’m setting myself up for the rest of the week. I’ll have leftovers, things to pick at, and that’s usually ideal.

Too much solo time makes me crazy, so I’m definitely going to have friends over — not too many though. Maybe one friend or a couple, no more than four. It’s gotta be small and intimate. Good laughs, good vibes.

I love to play games — that is a sure way to get me to come over to your house. I like board games like Balderdash. I picked up some old-school games the other day. I got Operation, which we all played when we were kids. It’s so fun. Card games — spades, love spades. Throw Throw Burrito is another good one. Everyone should play that one. You can get that at your local CVS.


1:45 a.m. Skincare regimen before bed

After everyone leaves, I definitely have to do my skincare before bed. I use this elixir and charcoal face wash, and then I do an exfoliant twice a week. The type of exfoliant I’ll do also depends on whether it was a long day out in the sun or in the pool. But if I got a facial that day, then I’m not going to do too much. I’ll just use my hydrating mist, and then I put this vitamin E oil on my face to go to sleep in to get the moisture back. That’s what I use every night before bed.

2 a.m. Time for bed and more “Big Brother”

I get in bed and put on more episodes of “Big Brother.” I’m only watching “Big Brother” right now. (Laughs.)