'The Idea Of You' has a familiar story.
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The Inspiration Behind The Idea Of You

It all came after some late night Googling of boy bands.

Everyone is talking about Anne Hathaway’s new movie The Idea of You. Not just because we all love a good rom-com and we all love Anne Hathaway in everything she does, but because this movie tells a story that is at once familiar and totally different. A single mom who has an affair with a hot younger man. A singer in a boy band, in fact. And they have actual sex. So is The Idea of You is based on a true story and what’s the inspiration behind it? Here’s what you need to know.

The Idea of You is based on Robinne Lee’s book.

The Idea of You was inspired by Robinne Lee’s 2017 book of the same name, which follows 39-year-old single mom of one Solène Marchand (played by Hathaway in the movie) as she takes her teenage daughter to see her favorite boy band, August Moon. There she meets band member Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine), who is just 20 years old and very interested in her. Despite some initial misgivings, the two embark on a clandestine and passionate affair. And naturally, things get super complicated.

So, is The Idea of You based on a true story?

The Idea of You is not based on a true story, but rather came from Lee’s own imagination. With a little help from some late night Googling about boy bands, like One Direction’s Harry Styles, and the love lives of celebrities, as it turns out.

Is The Idea of You based on Harry Styles?

In the trailer for The Idea of You, Hayes and Solène meet at Coachella. He seeks her out at the art gallery she is running, and they eventually end up starting their affair. An affair that is reminding some people of Harry Styles, former One Direction member, and his relationship with older mom of two Olivia Wilde. Not just because of the age difference but also the fact that One Direction songwriters contributed songs for August Moon in the movie. But according to a 2020 Vogue interview with Robinne Lee, Harry Styles did not inspire her book.

“This was never supposed to be a book about Harry Styles,” she said in her 2020 interview with Vogue. “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.” That being said, Lee did admit that Hayes was meant to be a sort of “Prince Harry-meets-Harry [Styles]” character, while also basing him off of her ex-husband and actor Eddie Redmayne.

Is The Idea of You fan fiction?

Lee might not have written The Idea of You as fan fiction, but the idea was inspired by a late night Google. “I was up late surfing music videos on YouTube when I came across the face of a boy I’d never seen in a band I’d never paid attention to,” she shared in a 2017 interview, “and it was so aesthetically perfect it took me by surprise. It was like…art. I spent a good hour or so Googling and trying to figure out who this kid was and in doing so I discovered that he often dated older women, and so the seed was planted.”

So not fan fiction, but certainly inspired by some Googling.

How can you watch The Idea of You?

The Idea of You will be available to stream on May 2 on Amazon Prime Video.