Movie Songs

Nicholas Galitzine, The Idea of You Team on Making Fictional Boy Band

May 3, 20249 Mins Read

In 2022, Nicholas Galitzine was on the main stage of “Coachella”, flanked by bandmates Jaiden Anthony, Raymond Cham Jr., Vik White, and Dakota Adan.

Surrounding them were 5,000 screaming fans, chanting at the top of their lungs, “August Moon! August Moon! August Moon!” For most of the guys, who are professional dancers, this was somewhat familiar, they’d performed for much bigger audiences, supporting stars like Beyoncé and Britney Spears, and dancing on national TV. But for Galitzine, this was all brand new.

Under the spotlight, the actor was playing the role of a world famous pop star — one fifth of a massively successful (fictional) boy band. So while the crowd was real, it helped that they weren’t actually in Indio, California for their set, but a couple thousand miles away on a chilly December morning in Atlanta, filming scenes for the Prime Video rom-com film, The Idea of You.

An adaptation of Robinne Lee’s novel of the same name, the film follows the whirlwind romance of Galitzine’s character, Hayes Campbell, and Solène Marchand (Anne Hathaway), a 40-year-old single mother who meets the August Moon frontman while taking her teenage daughter to Coachella. 

Movie magic can transform the Atlanta Motor Speedway parking lot into a festival’s headlining stage; add a massive banner, and bring together enough extras to create a crowd of diehard fans, and the illusion is almost complete. But without solid music — the kind that would really sell the idea of a fandom-worthy international sensation — the cast and crew behind The Idea of You knew the whole thing would crumble. 

“We pulled from a lot of different bands for inspiration,” says music supervisor Frankie Pine. “The obvious one was One Direction, but we also talked about Maroon 5, the classic boy bands, but also just the major artists of today.” 

Pine is no stranger to putting together fictional acts. Over the last several years, she’s worked on Nashville, and, more recently, Prime Video’s smash-hit miniseries, Daisy Jones & The Six. When it came to August Moon, she wanted to consider their entire artistic journey — something that would make them feel as believable as possible when the audience sees the band’s whirlwind world tour montage, dancing from one sold out stadium to the next.

The Idea of You

The Idea of You

Courtesy of Prime

Finding the perfect Hayes — a character the author says was inspired by an amalgamation of men, including Prince Harry, Harry Styles and some of her exes — was crucial. Director Michael Showalter and producer Cathy Schulman weren’t just looking for someone who had that instant spark with Hathaway (and Galitzine’s chemistry with the actress is electric), they wanted someone who could sing the film’s original songs himself.

Galitzine had previously shown off his musical abilities in 2021’s Cinderella and in covers he’d posted over the years on YouTube. Once he came in to audition, everything started to come together. “As soon as we heard his voice, it was like, ‘Oh, wow, we’ve really got something here,’” lead songwriter and producer Savan Kotecha recalls.

Kotecha was in the middle of a sabbatical in Sweden when The Idea of You script came his way. “I just started hearing the music,” he says. Kotecha had earned an Oscar nomination for his work on Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga in 2020, but it was his earlier credits that truly sold Showalter and Schulman. A former X Factor vocal coach, Kotecha worked with One Direction, co-writing hits like “What Makes You Beautiful,” and “Kiss You,” as well as penning songs for pop powerhouses like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and The Weeknd.

Kotecha drew on those experiences for The Idea of You, “I was treating it like Hayes was a real person,” he says. “Based on my own experiences, and conversations that I’d had with artists, I know who he would be, and what he would be feeling.”

He wanted the songs to illustrate August Moon’s evolution from shiny new boy band to radio mainstays. There was “Dance Before We Walk,” their bubbly, “teenybopper-ish” first single; “Taste,” the edgier, sexier track from their sophomore album (“Just tell me where to go,” Galitzine croons. “I’ll be making sure you get there first”); and then tracks like “Guard Down” and “Closer,” that would illustrate the band’s attempts to write songs with more substance and texture. 

Galitzine had the singing and romantic chemistry on lock, but there was just one hurdle: “Some of us have been doing prep for the last 15 years of our lives by being professional dancers,” he tells THR, with a laugh, in a recent video interview, pointing to his August Moon bandmates. 

The solution was a boy band bootcamp — a few weeks of intensive training working with choreographer Dani Vitale, that also gave the group crucial time to bond. So while Galitzine learned how to perfect the effortless swagger required of a pop star, the others practiced toning down their usual skills. “We had to learn how not to do too much,” says White.

The Idea of You

The Idea of You

Courtesy of Prime

“I just had to learn how not to stick out like a sore thumb,” Galitzine adds. “For me, it was more about creating those little moments with each other on stage, I think that’s what really sells it.” 

Finally, they were ready to perform. Within a few short days, they filmed August Moon’s fictional Coachella performance, and the shots from their tour. “They made it feel so similar, I honestly felt so at home, being in that setting,” says Adan, while Galitzine acknowledges that it meant stepping out of his comfort zone. “It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I think we were all quite emotional when it finished because we had put so much effort into it.”

For the rest of the group, the Coachella scene capped off their time as August Moon, but Galitzine’s work was far from over. With the tracks nearly finalized, the actor flew to Sweden to meet with Kotecha to record lead vocals for the soundtrack. It was a crash course in pop stardom. “We did what we would usually do in three weeks in three days,” Kotecha says. “Nick was such a trooper.” 

Without time to train and build a real boy band from scratch, Kotecha and some of his friends and collaborators rounded out the second and backing vocals for August Moon. During these sessions, he got to know Galitzine on walks around the studio, with the actor asking for Kotecha’s insights as someone who had seen these kinds of artists up close.

“He really took it seriously, which was exactly who Hayes Campbell was,” Kotecha says. “That’s what I loved about the character, he had a lot of integrity. He wanted to earn it, and Nick is the same way. He gave everything to this role and to the sessions in Sweden. It wasn’t always easy, but he just made the songs come alive.” 

Part of what initially drew Kotecha to the project was that Hayes and the band weren’t the butt of a joke, the script wasn’t interested in punching down on the idea of a boy band, which lends Hayes a sense of vulnerability. At one point, he confides in Solène about his musical idol inviting him to his house, only to find out he was just there to perform for his tween daughter. And when Solène asks how he found himself in a boy band, he pokes at the machine surrounding the formation of August Moon, explaining that he and the others were “just polaroids on a wall,” archetypes like “the rebel,” or “the brooding poet” brought together to form the perfect group.

“All those types of things just make him more human,” Kotecha says. “I’ve been close to it a few times, so I know that there are human beings involved, and they all have these internal struggles with impostor syndrome.” 

That’s why, for him, the music — even the soundtrack’s most lighthearted bops — didn’t feel like a parody. “I know that the songs that work come from seeds of truth,” Kotecha says, sharing that while “What Makes You Beautiful” became One Direction’s debut single, it was written about his own wife. “Truth always comes through, so I take these bands seriously, because I’ve seen firsthand what they mean to people. They give people a community, and that shouldn’t be a joke.”

Things came easily, at least until it was time to write the film’s title track. “That was the hardest one to crack,” he admits. “I think I built it up in my head, but it was just really important to make it feel different than August Moon.” 

After a five-year time jump, the song would need to convey Hayes’ artistic growth, but more importantly, the yearning ballad had to work as a grand romantic gesture — a message to Solène that he’s still thinking of her. The last song finalized for the film was shot a few months after production had wrapped, when Galitzine had already begun his next project, Mary & George. His co-star, Julianne Moore, happened to be filming a guest spot on The Graham Norton Show, which proved to be the perfect opportunity for Galitzine to swoop in and record his performance. He knew how important it would be to nail it.

“We scurried on and filmed it in a few minutes,” the actor says. “As a Brit, it’s such an iconic show, I was just pinching myself while trying to stay in character, because all of the lines were improvised between me and Graham. It’s such a brief moment, but it had to feel organic. We had to show a maturity and worldliness to Hayes that felt in line with him as an artist.” 

With this experience under his belt, Galitzine says the door has been opened to explore more musical opportunities in the future. “I feel like I learned a huge amount about myself working on this,” says Galitzine. “It was an incredibly steep learning curve.” Though he’s not ready to share any specifics, he does tease, “I am setting some things in motion already. I definitely have an eye to the future for this sort of stuff.” 

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