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Nicholas Galitzine's Idea of You & Harry Styles drama explained

Nicholas Galitzine's 'Idea of You' & Harry Styles drama explained

Nicholas Galitzine in The Idea of You; Harry Styles in As It Was music video
Prime Video; Columbia Records

Some fans are upset with the comparisons between Harry Styles and the story told in the upcoming film The Idea of You starring Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway.


The massive success of Red, White & Royal Blue and Bottoms, combined with all the hype behind his role on the Starz series Mary & George, has been turning Nicholas Galitzine into one of the biggest stars of the past few years. In May 2024, his career is slated to reach a new height by starring opposite Anne Hathaway in a new rom-com from Prime Video titled The Idea of You.

But before this new rom-com even premieres, the project is already getting some criticism from a very dedicated group of people on social media: fans of Harry Styles. Why, you ask? Well, let’s dive into the details that are unfortunately bringing these two worlds to collide.

Trigger warning: This story contains mentions of suicide.

What is ‘The Idea of You’ about?

Prime Video’s The Idea of You is a romantic comedy starring Hathaway as Solène Marchand and Galitzine as Hayes Campbell. The film is based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Robinne Lee.

The plot in this movie and book centers around a divorced woman falling in love with a singer — who’s part of a boyband called August Moon — after taking her daughter to one of their concerts. In the book, Solène is 39 years old, and Hayes is 20. In the movie, Solène is 40 years old, whereas Hayes is aged up to 24. There are other minor changes between the novel and the film, but the core story is about a woman striking up a relationship with a famous singer who is much younger, and whose work in a boyband caters to a teenage audience.

Harry Styles seems to be a reference point for the book and movie.

Since his early days as a member of One Direction, Styles was known for dating women who were older than him. As detailed by People, Styles dated TV host Caroline Flack (14 years older than him) in 2011, model Kimberly Stewart (also 14 years older than him) around 2013-2014, and ultimately had a high-profile relationship with Olivia Wilde (10 years older than him) after he was cast in her film Don’t Worry Darling.

The relationship between Styles and Wilde stands out, even though it took place after The Idea of You had already been written and published. At the time, Wilde had been engaged to long-time fiancé Jason Sudeikis and had to announce that they had split up before her affair with the Don’t Worry Darling costar. The timeline of those events is pretty sus and confusing, but that’s neither here nor there at this point.

Styles and Wilde’s relationship got serious enough for the singer to reportedly meet Wilde’s kids, and for the actress to join Styles on tour… and it wasn’t until November 2022 that Page Six confirmed they had broken up for good.

Quick sidebar: Liam Payne and Cheryl.

We’ll jump right back onto the parallels and concerns related to Styles and The Idea of You (because that’s the real through-line in this saga), but it is worth noting that Style’s One Direction band member, Liam Payne, also had a high-profile relationship with UK singer Cheryl, who was also significantly older than him.

Things get even weirder when you remember that Cheryl was a judge on The X Factor season that One Direction was formed in 2008 — meaning that she met Payne as a teenage contestant in the UK competition reality series. However, as noted on J-14, Payne and Cheryl didn’t start a relationship until 2016. Payne was 23 years old at the time, and Cheryl was 33. They had a son together, Bear, in 2017, and broke up a year later in 2018.

One might argue that The Idea of You could’ve also taken some inspiration from the Payne and Cheryl relationship, even if Styles had a higher number of relationships with older women before the book was written and published. On the other hand, one must admit that the parallels between the novel and Styles do seem to be a little clearer.

An X thread of Harry Styles “references” in the movie.

There’s a dedicated X thread containing every Harry Styles reference supposedly made in The Idea of You press materials. A few of these “references” do feel pointed, but beware that some of these also feel like a bit of a stretch. Like, singers point out to the crowd all the time and guys are known to ride bicycles — not everything has to be a reference, fam!

But here’s why Harry Styles fans are actually upset.

Harry Styles fans’ biggest issue with The Idea of You is that they believe the singer is being used as a reference point for a book (and now rom-com) while the alleged “true story” of what happened to him is supposedly much more sinister.

A few paragraphs ago, we mentioned that Styles dated Flack in 2011. Styles, born in 1994, was 17 years old in 2011. That year, Styles had just competed on the previous season of The X Factor, where the One Direction boyband was created and finished in third place. In 2011, Flack started hosting the spinoff series The Xtra Factor on TV. Born in 1979, Flack was around 32 years old at the time.

It’s been speculated by the media that Styles and Flack could have met behind the scenes on The X Factor season 7. Styles, who was a contestant in season 6 of The X Factor (a season that Flack was not involved in), performed with One Direction during a few episodes of season 7. Flack was also there for the filming of season 7, as she was cohosting the Xtra Factor companion series.

Fans of Styles argue that his relationship with Flack could not have been properly consensual given that the singer was under 18 years old as he dated a woman over the age of 30 at the time. The fans’ issues with The Idea of You are specifically tied to this allegedly imbalanced dynamic between Styles and Flack being fictionalized in a more trivial manner and now adapted into a rom-com, as displayed in the X post below.

On the other hand, it does seem like the marketing materials and the cast of The Idea of You have been distancing the project from Styles as a public person.

During an interview with BuzzFeed UK, Galitzine was directly asked about whether or not his character in the film was “inspired by Harry Styles.”

“We tried to create a character that felt maybe akin to Harry in the sense that he’s a younger man dating older women,” Galitzine explained. “[But] it was important to create someone who felt new and original and not a sort of shoddy impersonation of this person that we know really, really well.”

Judging by the interview clip shared on social, Galitzine looked very comfortable answering that question — not like someone who was stepping on eggshells and delivering a rehearsed answer to promote The Idea of You. So there’s a chance that this discourse among the Harry Styles fandom, while valid, just hasn’t really been something that the people involved in the film are deeply aware or conscious of.

As previously mentioned, Styles did have relationships with a few women who were older than him, so it’s possible (and even likely) that this character was created as a general archetype of what that kind of person could be like within the confines of “rom-com storytelling”… and not directly tied to the complicated relationship that the singer reportedly had with Flack.

We totally hear the concerns of Styles’ fans who remember those background stories in rich detail and feel like certain aspects of those experiences are being sold out as silly rom-com storylines. However, we also see a world where this film never intended to reference that one specific story, but rather just a type of relationship (like Payne with Cheryl, and like Styles with Stewart or Wilde) where a young male popstar starts dating a woman who is older than him.

The jury is still out on where viewers will land on this. For one, we think that fans are sharing valid concerns about the time when a teenage singer was in a relationship with a person who was much older than him. In turn, people should also consider Flack took her own life as recently as 2020 after dealing with many years of media scrutiny, which is absolutely tragic. Last but certainly not least, it doesn’t seem like this project intends to make light of that situation in any way, shape, or form given that the character is 20 years old in the novel and was aged up to 24 in the film.

If you or someone you know needs mental health resources and support, please call, text, or chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or visit for 24/7 access to free and confidential services. Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations. The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at or text START to 678678.

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Bernardo Sim


Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.

Bernardo Sim experiences and explains queer multiverses. Born in Brazil, he currently lives in South Florida.