TV & Movies

The Harry Styles-Idea Of You Connection, Explained

Harry or Hayes? Fact or fiction?

'The Idea of You' author Robinne Lee debunked the misconception that her story is Harry Styles fan f...
Alisha Wetherill/Prime

When Amazon Prime Video released The Idea of You on May 2, numerous fans believed they were sitting down to watch a movie adaptation of Harry Styles fanfic. The novel’s author, Robinne Lee, however, doesn’t agree with that description. While she has been open about Styles helping to inspire her hero, Hayes Campbell (played by Nicholas Galitzine), he’s far from the only person who went into the character, and the book and film are not based on a true story.

The Real Hayes Campbell

Lee flat-out debunked the misconception that Hayes is supposed to be Styles, telling Entertainment Weekly, “When I’m writing for Hayes, I’m not picturing Harry Styles.” In fact, there are multiple people who inspired her as she created Hayes, from public figures like John F. Kennedy Jr., to musicians such as Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon and John Taylor, to guys she knew growing up.

“To me, it wasn’t anyone that’s out there,” Lee said. “It’s picking and choosing what I wanted from different people.”

Fans have done their own picking and choosing, though, and Lee gets why they “latched onto” the idea of Hayes being Styles. “I think people were going to put that on it anyway because he was the only one of my inspirations that was currently in a British boy band that was popular at that time,” she said.

Hayes (Nicholas Galitzine) in The Idea of YouAlisha Wetherill/Prime

Real-Life Elements

The Idea of You the novel and the movie are fictional, but Lee was inspired by aspects of real life when she wrote the story, as she was when she created Hayes. In an essay for Time, she explained that she wrote it when she was close in age to her almost-40-year-old heroine, Solène (played by Anne Hathaway), and was already starting to see her personal and professional life negatively impacted by aging. She wanted Solène to be a woman “who rediscovers and redefines herself” through her relationship with a much-younger, famous man.

That message has resonated with many readers, including Hathaway. “For some reason, we talk about coming-of-age stories as being something that happens to you in the earliest part of your life,” she told the audience during a Q&A when the film premiered at SXSW on March 16, “and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I keep blooming.”