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How Old Is Hayes Campbell in ‘The Idea of You’?

A lot of the buzz around The Idea of You has been connected to its apparent loose relation to Harry Styles and his own love life.

In the film, Nicholas Galitzine plays Hayes Campbell, the lead in a teen sensation boy band called August Moon, who enters into a relationship with an older woman, a gallery owner played by Anne Hathaway. The book that the film adapts, a 2017 bestseller written by Robinne Lee, had been rumored to be essentially One Direction fanfiction with fictional names.

Hathaway’s character, Sòlene, meets Hayes at Coachella when she mistakes his trailer for the VIP bathroom and the two instantly hit it off. The older woman tries to resist her attraction to the younger pop star, but the two eventually begin a romantic relationship as she joins him on his August Moon tour around Europe.

Did they change Hayes’s age in The Idea of You?

Anne Hathaway as 'Solène' and Nicholas Galitzine as 'Hayes Campbell' star in THE IDEA OF YOU
Photo by Alisha Wetherill/Prime

Hayes is actually 20 years old in the book, but in the Michael Showalter-directed film the character was aged up to be 24. Sòlene, on the other hand, is 40 years old. Although the age gap is a central plot point in the film, as it deals with an older woman reconnecting with herself and her desires, the change indicates that executives at Amazon MGM Studios probably thought 20 was a little too young for comfort.

“I think if he’s 20 years old and she’s 40, again, it just adds a layer of sort of impropriety or whatever that is great, but just not for this story, for this tone that we were going for,” director Showalter told IndieWire.

Fans of Styles and One Direction have also criticized Lee’s book and its cinematic adaptation for romanticizing a controversial past relationship between the singer and X Factor host Caroline Flack. The two dated between 2011 and 2012 when Styles was 17, and Flack was 31.

Despite the 16-year-dol age gap between Galitzine and Hathaway’s characters, The Idea of You doesn’t cross any weird limits in the two’s relationship. Only after Hayes insists, does Sòlene cave into her attraction for him, and the two often discuss their feelings and boundaries. To each their own, of course, but, in the end, lose connections to Harry Styles or otherwise, The Idea of You is entirely fiction — and also, who wouldn’t want to date Anne Hathaway? Like, seriously.

The film is currently streaming on Prime Video. Read We Got This Covered’s 3-and-a-half-star review here.

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