Michael Showalter, the co-writer, director and producer behind the romantic comedy The Idea of You, doesn't have any interest in the idea of "love at first sight," and yet, that was exactly how both he and star Anne Hathaway felt when they first met Nicholas Galitzine.

"He's so charming, he's so funny, relatable, confident but not cocky," Showalter shared during an Academy-hosted Q&A alongside producer Cathy Schulman. "When I had this Zoom call with Nick the night before his audition, I was texting Cathy going, 'This is the guy, I'm 100 percent sure of it.'" And then in the audition, his guitar playing was excellent, his singing voice was excellent, but more than anything it was his performance of the song — he was really serenading Anne."

"The other guys were kind of signing to all of us. He was singing right to Anne. It was like, 'Do you want us to leave?'" the director recalled with a laugh. "'Should we leave?' It was that kind of an energy. You could just feel it."

Hathaway's reaction to Galitzine's audition, meanwhile, was music to Showalter's ears. "I didn't tell Anne how I felt, because I didn't want Anne to feel any pressure," he said, "and she's like, 'Well, it's obviously got to be that guy!'"

Director Michael Showalter with Anne Hathaway on the set of 'The Idea of You.'

Based on Robinne Lee's 2017 novel of the same name, The Idea of You centers on single mom Solène (Hathaway), whose chance encounter with boy bander Hayes Campbell (Galitzine) at Coachella sparks a whirlwind affair. While Galitzine won his role through a rigorous audition process, the creative team immediately thought of Hathaway to play the other half of the fantasy romance.

"There's something about Anne that has been very personal for many of us, which is that we've sort of grown up with her," Schulman says of the Oscar-winning actress, who made her film debut at age 18 in 2001's The Princess Diaries. "I felt like she'd be the right person to watch graduate into sophisticated womanhood. She was also saying that she wanted to do something where she could scream from the top of the building that she's 40 and could still light up the room."

The age difference between the characters — she is 40, he is 24 — has caused a stir both within the world of the movie and in the real world, but for the filmmakers, that's the point of The Idea of You. "I thought, Why do I still think it's so cuckoo for an older woman to be with a younger man? I really questioned myself at that moment," Schulman said of what inspired the movie in the first place. "If i'm still thinking that's so risqué, then clearly this is something we should make a movie about"

"This shouldn't be a big deal," Showalter adds. "The hope would be that we don't have to keep having this conversation forever."

Watch the full Academy Conversation below to hear more from Showalter and Schulman about subverting rom-com expectations and the inspiration they took from classics like 1999's Notting Hill: "Solène is our Hugh Grant, and Silver Lake is our Notting Hill."


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