“The Idea of You” author reacts to movie's ending changes: 'That's not the story I wanted to tell'

"Hollywood's going to do what they're going to do, and they're going to throw a happy ending on everything. I don't know why," Robinne Lee says.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Idea of You.

The Idea of You wants to make you cry at the end.

But whether those are happy or sad tears all depends on whether you're reading Robinne Lee's 2017 novel or watching the Prime Video adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine because the movie completely changes the ending in a surprise twist.

Lee's smash hit book introduces the unconventional but intense age-gap romance between 40-year-old divorced single mom Solène and 24-year-old British boy band member Hayes Campbell. And while they both try to make their genuine relationship work for a long time, by the end, Solène is convinced it's impossible. Due to the negative impact on her young daughter, her business, and basically her entire life, she breaks up with Hayes (multiple times since it doesn't really stick on her first attempt). The book ends tragically with Solène never really getting over her love, while Hayes eventually moves on and never contacts her again.

<p>Courtesy of Prime</p> Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in 'The Idea of You'

Courtesy of Prime

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in 'The Idea of You'

But the movie completely flips the scripts to give Solène (Hathaway) and Hayes (Galitzine) the happy ending they never had in the book. A time jump of five years after their breakup reveals that Hayes (Galitzine) has successfully started his solo career outside of August Moon, and he lives up to his promise to find Solène five years later once her daughter is old enough not to be as affected by their relationship. He shows up at her gallery, and her tear-filled smile says it all. They're getting the happy ending no one ever expected — especially the book's author.

"I was not involved at all in the adaptation," Lee tells Entertainment Weekly. "I have not even spoken to [director] Michael [Showalter] yet, but I'm looking forward to meeting him, so no, I haven't spoken to him about any changes. My husband's a producer on this, and he's spoken to him, and so he has reported back to me about Michael's changes, so I know some of the reasons he did things he chose to do."

Lee doesn't feel betrayed by how different the movie is from her original book because she understands that adapting something for the screen is no easy feat. "The book is a book, and the movie is a movie," she says. "You have to step away and let the filmmakers do what they're going to do and not get too concerned with what it is you've created and when it stops because it's a completely different medium. Adaptations are always a tricky thing because books are so much more cerebral, and you're reading the character's thoughts, and it's hard to convey character's thoughts in a film, so there's going to be changes."

She was always bracing herself for how her story would change for the movie, and she still hopes that fans of her book can find something new to love in the movie. But she never intended to give Solène and Hayes a happy ending and was surprised to see them get one in the epilogue.

"It's America — Hollywood's going to do what they're going to do, and they're going to throw a happy ending on everything," Lee says. "I don't know why. You hope they'll keep to what you've written because it meant something to you, but you also have to think about the box office and viewers and what their audience is going to want to see. Even though there's obviously a huge overlap between readers and movie viewers, I think when you are gearing something towards a movie audience, it's a slightly different fanbase, and maybe American viewers are not ready for [a sad ending]."

<p>Alisha Wetherill/Prime</p> Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in 'The Idea of You'

Alisha Wetherill/Prime

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in 'The Idea of You'

While Lee understands most people want to "leave and feel happy" after seeing a movie, she feels the opposite. "Titanic was a huge success — I love crying and I cried for three days and then I went back and went back and went back," Lee explains. "It is the only movie I've seen in the theater four times because I like to cry. And you'll know I like to cry when you read my book. Crying makes me feel like I'm alive."

As for whether the book version of Solène and Hayes could also have a happy ending years later, Lee isn't too enthusiastic about the idea. "I mean, the movie ending could have happened in the book too, I suppose, years down the line," she says. "But that's not the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to make a point about how, as women, we put others' happiness before our own. She chose her daughter before Hayes, and she was also very aware that she was disappointing her best friend, Lulit, her business partner and the co-owner of her gallery, which was suffering from the Hayes relationship. She had to put those other things first. It would've been lovely if she could have balanced all three, but at that point in time, she couldn't."

Lee stresses that she wanted the entire romance and story to "feel real," especially with how it ends. "I wanted it to feel like you were reading this woman's diary," she explains. "It's something that had really happened to her, and she'd gotten caught up in this role and romance, and it almost destroyed her and everything around her, and she had to let it go."

While the book seems to definitively end Solène and Hayes's story, Lee isn't totally opposed to revisiting their relationship in a future book. "Maybe years down the line, I'll go back, and I'll give them more time together," she says. "But we'll see."

Another seemingly small change that actually has a massive impact on the story is how the movie ages Hayes up from 20 to 24. While the age gap is still an issue despite the change, the book version of Hayes can't drink legally, which causes a lot of issues in both the text and subtext.

"It does change things," Lee says. "I had to make it feel a little unsafe. I wasn't going to make him illegal, but I wanted it to raise eyebrows. I felt like 24 was playing it too safe. I mean, at my age now, 24 sounds crazy, but when I was writing the book 10 years ago, 20 sounded like just the edge of crazy. My friends would be like, 'You're losing your mind, but you're not breaking any laws. So if you're enjoying it ... '"

And it all turned out okay... at least, it does in the movie.

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