Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (2024)

Anne Hathaway is in the midst of a cathartic moment.

The actress, at a new peak in her bustling career dubbed the "Hathaissance," is feeling "grateful" as she reclaims the romantic comedy in a way that's refreshing and resonating.

In "The Idea of You" (streaming Thursday on Prime Video), based on Robinne Lee's 2017 novel of the same name, 40-year-old single mom Solène Marchand (Hathaway) meets and falls for 24-year-old boy-band member Hayes Campbell (Nicholas Galitzine) while taking her teenage daughter to a festival where his group August Moon is performing. What follows is a jet-setting summer that propels the divorced gallery owner into a whirlwind romance with the mega-famous singer 16 years her junior on the European leg of his tour.

"It probably would be advantageous if I was a little bit more strategic about my career," Hathaway says of the rom-com, which "just released something inside of me when I read the script."

"But truly, I'm led by passion and instinct."

Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (1)

Solène – emotionally complex, earnestly hopeful, embracing the risk of love – is striking a chord. The film's warm reception at South By Southwest and record-breaking trailer sparks gratitude in Hathaway.

Her first starring role came in 2001's "The Princess Diaries," and "I remember the premiere of that film so well. I didn't have the life experience to totally understand what was happening. I appreciated it, but I also didn't know how rare it was," she says. "To be embraced by a (SXSW) audience in a way that felt awfully familiar – to have the success of the trailer – I've had enough experiences that have not gone so astonishingly well, so I'm just letting myself enjoy this one."

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Hathaway, 41, is energized to "see women so lit up" because "they've just seen something that speaks to them."

"I'm not much of a cook, but I imagine it's how you feel after you make a really, really delicious, satisfying meal for someone," Hathaway says.

Chemistry and Coachella combine in the Anne Hathaway movie 'The Idea of You'

Solène, mom to Izzy (Ella Rubin), is "quite serious, but also really funny at the same time," Hathaway says. "Characters are (usually) parsed into one of two camps."

Hayes is "persistent and he's charming and flirtatious" – tracking Solène down after their first chance encounter – while being "someone who is extremely worldly" and "really wants to be taken seriously," says Galitzine ("," ""). The British actor, 29, who has "never seen a boy band in concert" but "grew up listening to the Backstreet Boys," sings in the film and finds a comfortable charisma with his fictional bandmates.

Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (2)

The movie's nuanced portrayal of their age gap, the outside pressures of the celebrity-civilian dynamic and the misogyny Soléne faces at the hands of tabloids and her daughter's classmates are "part of a cultural conversation about the way we feel entitled to criticize women, and the way we feel entitled to think about women rather than experience them as themselves," Hathaway says on a video call from Atlanta, where she's shooting her upcoming movie "Flowervale Street."

The characters' 16-year age difference has prompted the internet to draw parallels between former One Direction member Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde's romance (though the film's source material was published years prior). Galitzine hopes "the movie will go a way to normalize this depiction on screen."

"These are two people who are just connecting in an extremely deep way," says Galitzine. "The age becomes almost insignificant in a way because they have such a chemistry and they have such an understanding of each other, and Hayes has such an emotional maturity. And so, really, the thing to overcome is the fame of it all, and that almost becomes the main antagonist in a way."

Hathaway loves that the film's central relationship provides "hope and this exploration that your life is yours and it's to be enjoyed by you, and only you know how it's going. Perhaps one of the signs of maturity is being able to define your life for yourself."

Alongside the perhaps surprising level of emotional depth, the film uses all the fodder that puts the "rom" in rom-com: Soléne and Hayes dodging paparazzi in LA, a New York hotel romp, kisses on European beaches. It was a journey for Hathaway as both actress and executive producer.

"When you're a producer, you're just like, 'Oh, my gosh, my name is on this thing.' It has to just function in terms of how it's designed on a practical level," Hathaway says about filming out of sequence. "So that meant (filming) in the morning, I could be like freshly in love. And then just after lunch, I had to be emotionally devastated. And then by the time like dinner rolled around, I had to find a shred of hope."

Galitzine, a fan of the movie's director Michael Showalter, had Hathaway "on my bucket list of actors that I really hoped to work with in my career." He spotted her in the audition room and felt "immediately connected."

Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (3)

The onscreen chemistry between the two is palpable; his audition left no question of who was right for the part, Hathaway says.

"He walked in, I go, 'Oh, yeah, that's Hayes Campbell,' " Hathaway says. "And then we did a scene together and I'm like, 'This is definitely Hayes Campbell.' Then he sang, and I'm like, 'We should be so lucky that he should be Hayes Campbell.' And then he played the guitar, and I'm like, 'What?' Then we did a dance improv and he and I just had so much fun dancing together. And I just thought, 'Oh, my God, who is Nick Galitzine that can do all of these things?'"

The two texted back and forth before filming began, quizzing each other on what the other's last meal would be and their desert island playlist.

Without any true sex scenes, the movie relies on the couple's steamy romantic connection. "We actually thought it'd be sexier if we could make people feel things without visually stimulating them," Hathaway says.

Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (4)

Though Coachella serves as the backdrop for the couple's meet-cute, Galitzine has never been to the music festival. Hathaway, on the other hand, has "very fond memories of Coachella."

"I got to see Paul McCartney live" in 2009, Hathaway says. "There's this song and I was really hoping he was going to play it. There must have been 70,000 people there, and he played the first chord and then stopped because there was something wrong with the guitar, but 70,000 people knew exactly what was about to happen and we all had the same idea at the same moment. And as great as he was, that part of the concert, to just like feel all of our hearts lift at the same exact time, was so beautiful."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Idea of You': Anne Hathaway knew Nicholas Galitzine was the one

Anne Hathaway on 'The Idea of You,' rom-coms and her Paul McCartney Coachella moment (2024)
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