The Idea of You: what to know about new adaptation of Harry Styles-inspired romance, starring Anne Hathaway

When the trailer dropped for the highly-anticipated upcoming rom-com, The Idea of You, last month it sent the internet into a frenzy.

A film adaptation of Robinne Lee’s 2017 best-selling novel, not only does it star Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, but its leading man was partly inspired by Harry Styles.

“Omg I crying already watching the trailer. Already excited so much,” commented one fan under the trailer. “IM GONNA DIE,” said another. “This is literally a Harry styles fanfic turned into a movie I'm crying,” said another.

Here’s what you need to know about the film that promises to be a massive spring hit.

What’s the plot about?

Hathaway, who has just starred in two period thrillers – December’s Eileen and March’s Mothers' Instinct – plays Solène, a 40-year-old single mum who begins a romance with 24-year-old boyband member Hayes Campbell (Galitzine) after a chance meeting at Coachella.

It all starts when Solène takes her daughter to the festival, and runs into one of the members of the famous boyband. They have a spark, but Solène obviously returns home thinking that nothing is going to come of the interaction. Then, incredibly, Campbell pops up at her work, and a racy romance begins.

It’s based on Harry Styles fan fiction?

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine (The Idea of You, Official Trailer, Prime Video)
Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine (The Idea of You, Official Trailer, Prime Video)

Not quite – the Campbell character is partly inspired by One Direction member turned solo sensation Styles. But the rumour that The Idea of You is directly inspired by fan fiction written about the real-life pop star is false.

In an interview with Vogue, actor-turned-author Lee said that, “This was never supposed to be a book about Harry Styles... It was supposed to be a story about a woman approaching 40 and reclaiming her sexuality and rediscovering herself, just at the point that society traditionally writes women off as desirable and viable and whole.”

However in the same interview she admitted that in order to create the character Campbell, she had partly carried over a character from an unpublished semi-autobiographical novel she had written, and then zhuzhed him up: “I made him into my dream guy,” she said, “Like Prince Harry, meets Harry [Styles].”

“I definitely borrowed some of Harry,” she said in another interview, “but I feel that Hayes Campbell’s a combination of lots of different people: Prince Harry, Prince William, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, my husband and about four different ex-boyfriends.”

The novel was a massive hit?

Yes. The novel has been a sleeper hit, with book sales gradually increasing over the last seven years. Its now has a massive online following – which describes itself as #HaySolNuts (a combination of the names Hayes, Solène, and being nuts) – and whose members, according to Penguin House, unite in “online and in private Facebook groups; you can track the characters’ love nests on virtual maps and buy [Hayes’ boy band] August Moon T-shirts.”

The novel has also been doing the rounds in Harry Styles fan circles – which partly explains why it’s sometimes incorrectly regarded as fan fiction.

Who has made the film?

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine (The Idea of You, Official Trailer, Prime Video)
Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine (The Idea of You, Official Trailer, Prime Video)

The Idea of You has been directed and co-written by Michael Showalter, who directed The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) and episodes of Grace and Frankie (2016-2019) and The Dropout (2022). He’s also an actor: Sex and the City fans will remember his as Billy, Jack Berger’s wide-eyed friend in episode The Post-It Always Sticks Twice, and he’s featured in series Law & Order, Childrens Hospital and Search Party.

His co-writer is Jennifer Westfeldt, is best known for writing and starring in indie hit 2002 Kissing Jessica Stein and writing and directing the acclaimed 2012 rom-com Friends with Kids. She has also acted in various high-profile series such Grey's Anatomy, 24, Queen America, and Notes from the Underbelly.

What have the actors said about it?

At the film’s premiere at SXSW Festival in March, Hathaway, 41, said: “For some reason, we talk about coming-of-age stories as being something that happens to you in the earliest part of your life, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I keep blooming.”

Galitzine, 29, who recently starred in Sky’s scandalous period drama Mary & George alongside Julianne Moore, and Emma Seligman’s lesbian high school comedy Bottoms, has said he was drawn to the project because “female pleasure is the protagonist... we don’t get to see that a lot.”

The Idea of You will premiere on Prime Video May 2