Freeform's Famous in Love imagines a version of Hollywood where the drama between the actors is at least as interesting as what winds up onscreen. The new drama premieres on April 18 and follows an industry newbie as her star rises. Is Famous in Love based on a true story? Not exactly, but it does have several big influences — and it's based on a book series of the same name. Unlikely things do happen in Hollywood, and there are enough stories of real-life drama between performers — some plucked from obscurity, like Bella Thorne's character, Paige — to power a thousand TV series. So while the characters in Famous in Love are totally original creations, they were inspired by the crossroads where actors performing a love story really do fall in love.
Dawson's Creek has been referenced several times by the author of the Famous in Love series and co-creator of the show, Rebecca Serle. On the show, Pacey and Joey started falling in love while the actors playing them, Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes, became an item in real life. In an interview with HollywoodLife, Serle said that this instance of life imitating art was an early inspiration. "It was really the first time that I remember that model — watching people fall in love off screen and knowing there’s also something happening behind the scenes," Serle said.
And in an interview with Hunger Games fansite Down with the Capitol, Serle said that her early fascination with the realities of fame eventually prompted her to write the love triangle at the center of Famous In Love: Paige is caught between her best guy friend and her famous costar. "I think from that point forward I was fascinated by the intersection of fiction and reality, and what it would feel like to live out two fantasies simultaneously," Serle said. "Obviously Twilight took the model and shot it straight into the stratosphere."
It's true. Twilight is another example of a love story that resulted in a behind the camera hookup — stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart dated for years after playing sexy vampire Edward Cullen and his high school sweetheart Bella Swan. Other romantic costar hookup examples include Step Up, where Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum met and fell in love, and the intra-cast dating that took place on teen TV shows like Gossip Girl, Beverly Hills 90210, and Saved By the Bell. Famous in Love is taking a few big liberties by creating original characters — especially by making its protagonist a random unknown who becomes a superstar — but it's echoing something that's happened many times on movie and television sets: the "showmance."
Serle recently told Bustle in an interview that she's also interested in portraying the dark side of being a star. "One of our goals was to show the underbelly of fame, stuff that people don’t always talk about and how kind of scary and disorienting it can be," she says. Being famous involves a lot of pressure and in many cases, the loss of privacy, which can be especially challenging for young stars who are expected to interact with fans all the time in person and through social media.
One such young star is Bella Thorne, who's been a fan of the Famous In Love book series for years. Years before the TV adaptation of Famous in Love would premiere with her in the starring role, Thorne praised the book's realism: "Rebecca Serle completely captured what it’s like to be a part of Young Hollywood." And as she explains in the behind the scenes clip below, she also appreciates that Famous In Love "show[s] the downside of it, which nobody ever talks about."
Famous In Love is a fictional story, but author and co-creator Serle hopes to let audiences in on experiences that can be very real for people with a certain level of fame.