‘The Idea of You’ Author Says She Was ‘Not Involved at All’ with Film Adaptation: ‘The Book Is the Book, and the Movie Is the Movie’

[Editor’s note: The following story contains spoilers for “The Idea of You.”]

Don’t you hate it when Hollywood changes the ending to your favorite book when adapting it into a film? The process is sacrilege to some readers, but it can often lead to films improving upon their source material. The latest bestseller to see its ending changed is “The Idea of You” — and a recent piece by IndieWire’s Erin Strecker endorses the changes screenwriters Michael Showalter and Jennifer Westfeldt made in adapting Robinne Lee’s 2017 novel.

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However, it turns out these changes, well regarded as they are by some, did not receive input from Lee herself. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the author said she “was not involved at all in the adaptation.”

“I have not even spoken to [director] Michael [Showalter] yet,” Lee said. “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.”

The ending change in question has to do with how the relationship between Hathaway’s 40-year-old Solène and Galitzine’s 24-year-old Hayes ends. In the book, they both part ways for good, with Solène left lovelorn and thinking about what could’ve been. But the film gives a sunnier conclusion. After a few years apart, we see Hayes show up at Solène’s gallery. The two share a tearful reunion, offering hope that their relationship will re-flourish. It’s a lot more upbeat that Lee’s original conclusion, but she isn’t surprised by the change.

“The book is a book, and the movie is a movie,” said Lee. “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.”

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