Are Hayes Campbell and Solene Marchand Based on Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde?

Image Credit: Alisha Wetherill/Prime

In Prime Video’s ‘The Idea of You,’ Anne Hathaway plays the role of Solene Marchand, a single mom who falls in love with Hayes Campbell, a man about a decade-and-a-half younger than her. What makes their relationship even more complicated is Hayes’ popularity as a member of a highly successful boy band. The media circus surrounding their relationship doesn’t make anything easy for them. Relationships between older women and younger men have always been under scrutiny but Hayes’ situation in the movie has been noted to have a close resemblance with another famous singer from an insanely popular boy band. Is this resemblance coincidental or intentional?

Hayes Campbell is a Combination of Several People

‘The Idea of You’ is based on the book of the same name by Robinne Lee. It was published in 2017 and became a sleeper hit over the years, drawing comparisons with Harry Styles’ various romances over the years, particularly with Olivia Wilde. The book, however, isn’t inspired by their relationship because they didn’t meet until 2020 and didn’t officially step out together til early 2021. Still, Styles had been indulged in several relationships, some of which were with women quite older than him. In 2011, when he was 17, he was linked to Caroline Flack, who was in her 30s at the time. Nicole Scherzinger’s name also finds itself on the list.

Image Credit: Alisha Wetherill/Prime Video

When asked whether Styles was the inspiration behind Hayes, author Robinne Lee revealed that barely so. She said that while she had looked towards Styles while crafting Hayes, he wasn’t the only one. While writing him, she was also thinking about her husband, Eric Hayes, an ex-boyfriend or two, as well as actors like Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston, and even Prince Harry. Basically, she wanted a boy band that would look like something “Prince Harry and his friends from Eton had formed.”

The idea to write the book came from a boy band as well, though the author hasn’t specified whether it is One Direction or some other band. While surfing the web, she came across a boy band and was completely taken by one of its members, whom she called “aesthetically perfect.” This led her down a rabbit hole to find out more about the boy and to the discovery that he had had romances with older women before. She later joked with her husband about leaving him and everything else to run away with the singer from the band, to which he replied that it would make an excellent premise for a book. And so, the idea was born.

While playing Hayes in the movie, actor Nicholas Galitzine revealed that while he had looked towards Styles for inspiration, he and the filmmakers decided to steer clear of any form of imitation or “shoddy impersonation” of the singer. While one could draw parallels between them, Galitzine stated that Hayes remains a completely original character. For the author of the book, the comparisons with Styles were helpful in driving the sales, but she said that it was never supposed to be about him. It was always about Solene.

Solene Marchand was Borne of Lee’s Own Experiences

While Hayes was brimming with youth and possibilities, Lee was more keen about exploring the situation of a woman for whom, according to the rest of the world, life is basically over. Having worked in Hollywood for several years, Lee had noticed a remarkable shift in the types of roles that were offered to her when she reached her late 30s. It was as if the industry believed that a woman’s beauty and sexuality didn’t mean anything after that. Lee wanted to counter that belief and so, Solene Marchand was born.

Lee remembered attending an art fair in Aspen where she’d seen a woman in her late 30s, nowhere near the decline women, according to society, are supposed to reach in that age. This “elegantly chic and understated and breathtakingly beautiful” woman became the blueprint for Solene. When it came to her journey and her feelings, Lee invested her own emotions into the character. She tapped into her own past relationship when she’d briefly dated a younger man in Solene and Hayes’ relationship.

Lee wanted to bust the myths surrounding female sexuality in middle age and wanted to break the character out of the box, which labeled her as nothing more than a wife and a mother. Solene was meant to represent the journey of rediscovery and the reclaiming of sexuality, completely discarding the idea that women after a certain age aren’t desirable or don’t have a sexual and romantic life while also pointing out that the situation looks the polar opposite of this when the genders are flipped.

Read More: The Idea of You: Where Was The Anne Hathaway Movie Filmed?