Nicholas Galitzine’s Secret to Rising Stardom: I Don’t ‘Engage with the More Toxic Parts of Hollywood’

It feels like suddenly Nicholas Galitzine is everywhere.

The 29-year-old English actor had a runaway streaming hit last year with “Red, White & Royal Blue,” starring as a prince caught up in a closeted gay romance with an American politico (Taylor Zakhar Perez). He played a dopey quarterback in the “Heathers”-inspired high school comedy “Bottoms,” and this spring starred as a queer George Villiers, aka the First Duke of Buckingham.

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Now, he’s a full-blown romantic drama lead in “The Idea of You,” starring as Hayes Campbell, the frontman of a One Direction-inspired pop group who falls for a divorced single mother, Solène, played by Anne Hathaway. Directed by Michael Showalter and written by Jennifer Westfeldt, the film situates us in the moony dazedness of new love that becomes Solène’s fixation. We buy convincingly that Hayes, and therefore Galitzine, is a heartthrob capable of making us drop our baggage and take off on a global concert tour interspersed with lusty sex in hotel rooms and lying to your daughter (Ella Rubin) over the phone about your whereabouts.

The film would not work at all without the palpable chemistry between Galitzine, a Brit who now lives in Los Angeles, and Hathaway, here in a career-peaking performance. And in order to establish that chemistry, to prove he could convey what it’s like to be the focal point of every pinwheel-eyed fangirl in America, Galitzine had to actually serenade Hathaway in the mode of Hayes during the audition process.

“I had to prepare a song to sing to the group to serenade Annie, and luckily, they liked my voice, but speaking to Savan [Kotecha], our amazing songwriter as well, what they were going to be able to do with the music was very much dependent on who they cast. So I think it was lucky that we were able to sync up creatively as well,” Galitzine, who released his own single, “Comfort,” in 2022 and sang seven songs in the 2021 “Cinderella” movie, told IndieWire.

THE IDEA OF YOU, Nicholas Galitzine (center), 2024. ph: Alisha Wetherill /©Amazon Prime /Courtesy Everett Collectionn
‘The Idea of You’©Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection

Indeed, Hathaway and Galitzine spark up the screen once their characters meet cute (and by accident) in Hayes’ trailer at Coachella, where gallery owner Solène has taken her daughter. Back in Los Angeles and out from the mirages of the desert, they bond over art, music, and a physical attraction despite their May-December age difference.

“It was a crazy day,” Galitzine said of the chemistry read he shared with Hathaway before filming. “We did two scenes. One, we were improvising and laughing. One, we were crying, as I said before, I serenaded her. I had to pick a song to encourage Solène to get up and dance with Hayes, which was not really in my wheelhouse, but I kind of threw myself into it. And honestly, it was just one of those experiences where you leave the room and you’re just so satisfied with your work. You obviously desperately want the part, but I was so pleased with how engaged I was with Annie in the whole room that that almost stood by itself as just being creatively fulfilling. And then I was just extremely thankful that it was either a few hours later or the next day they called me and gave me the role.”

Hayes is an unpredictable twist on the silhouette of a pop star — the movie is, after all, based on a novel by Robinne Lee, who it’s said took inspiration from Harry Styles. (In pre-production, Galitzine partook in a boy band boot camp to get into pop star mode.) Hayes is not smarmy. He has an emotional maturity. He’s also not a wayward, troubled soul in the vein of a Justin Bieber at certain points of his career.

“He’s in a really fantastic place in his life, but also exploring something that I think we can all empathize with it as people, which is what would your life look like had you grown up in the spotlight since the age of 14, 15?” Galitzine said. “He just really wants to be taken seriously. And he’s been growing into a man through these years, and really, he has a very strong sense of himself, but also has a difficult relationship with his family. His dad, maybe his intentions towards Hayes are a little convoluted and murky, and he doesn’t get to see his mom as much as he possibly would. And so he has all of this love and maybe not necessarily an avenue to channel it. And then he meets this person who really treats him like a human being and not this sort of brand or facade that maybe a lot of people associate with him. I think there was just always, even on the page, something really human about Hayes that I connected with.”

THE IDEA OF YOU, from left: Nicholas Galitzine, Anne Hathaway, 2024. ph: Alisha Wetherill /© Amazon Prime /Courtesy Everett Collection
‘The Idea of You’©Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection

Fame is a relatively new phenomenon for Galitzine, who has 5 million Instagram followers and about 15 acting credits to his name, including the beloved Netflix YA heart-tugger “Purple Hearts.” Did he feel some simpatico with Hayes over the character’s struggles with fandom and 24/7 attention from the media? Not quite yet.

“I think it’s all about setting boundaries really,” said Galitzine of major stardom being very near on the horizon. “And I have my non-negotiables, my family, my loved ones, my friends. I always try and carve out time for them. I’m not really engaged with the more toxic parts of Hollywood that I think do exist out there. And none of my friends who are in the industry are as well. I think we, first and foremost, love the job for what it is, which is a creative endeavor. And then otherwise, my life is just incredibly normal, and I have my things that I like doing. I like walking around. I like exploring. I love nature. I love going out to restaurants and stuff. And so maybe I’m speaking from a point of naivety, but I’ve managed to maintain that till this day, and I hope I can continue to create a space for myself where I’m still able to do those things that I feel so passionately about.”

Pie in the sky, what does Galitzine want to do next? “I definitely want to get into the action space. Because that’s something I kind of have a bit of a background in that I haven’t really been able to do before,” said Galitzine, who does Muay Thai and boxing in his off hours and has a history as a childhood rugby athlete. “I’d love to do sort of sci-fi fantasy. I’d love to do Western, I’d love to do more comedy. Because I had such a fun time making ‘Bottoms.’ Really, my tastes are very varied, which is exciting. And I think it’s certainly an approach I’ve kind of taken in the last couple of years towards my work is really trying to find the light and shade of what I’m capable of.”

“The Idea of You” is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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