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You may recognize Robinne Lee as an actress in films including Hav Plenty, Seven Pounds and the Fifty Shades Of Grey sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

Source: Kristina Bumphrey / Getty

She’s also the author of the bestselling novel The Idea Of You, and most recently she produced (along with Gabrielle Union) a same-titled film based on that book which stars Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine, which debuted on Prime Video this week.


Our Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden chatted with Lee about her book’s creation and evolution, check out their Q&A below:

On writing The Idea Of You:

I have always since I was little I’ve been like obsessed with two things, writing and acting. I started writing when I was very little, I still have books from like 3rd grade, like short stories, but I wrote my first novel when I was 14, and it was like 884 pages — handwritten pages that I have in my guest room in a box.

I’ve always written things for myself because it was my outlet, and then I started pursuing a career in acting, but writing was what I would do. In acting so much of your daily life is just waiting. You do auditions and then you’re waiting to hear back, or you get the part but even then you’re waiting. You’re in your trailer, you’re waiting, and then in between auditions you’re waiting. I feel like with acting you’re you’re always waiting for someone to give you permission to practice your craft and to create. So writing was what I did for fun and it was something that I could do and express my creativity and then have something to show at the end of the day. I didn’t have to wait for permission, I didn’t have to wait months, I didn’t go through post production or have to worry whether or not I got cut out of the scene or whatever. It was all mine and I had it.

In 2012, it’d been like 6 years working on a novel and could not sell it, shortly before The Idea of You and it was very frustrating to me. I kind of shut down for a couple of years and then and I got the idea to this to do this book. I knew it was great story. I hadn’t seen it done before. I knew that I could do it really well and respectfully and honestly and then I knew that time was of the essence because I wanted to be the first one to get it out, but I was also writing in current time and social media and all those things play a role. When I wrote that, Snapchat hadn’t been invented, TikTok hadn’t been invented and things are happening so fast, I wanted it done and out and in the world.

On The Idea Of You becoming a film:

I was just really lucky. The first agent I sent it to loved it. He spent a couple several weeks doing notes. I spent a few months taking his notes and we sold it within two weeks. It just happened like that and shortly after it coming out into the world, Cathy Schulman came on as a producer and optioned it. That kind of just got the ball rolling. It’s been out now for seven years and sometimes I felt like I was I was selling one book a day. I’m just very, very good about social media engagement and like any reader who’s reached out to me with positive or negative commentary and finds me in my DM’s I respond to. I kind of feel like I built up this relationship with my readers and it’s kind of helped the snowball effect, because then it becomes they tell someone and they tell someone and you know and so it’s kind of gone by word of mouth.

It had a really kind of a big explosion during the pandemic when we were all in lockdown and there was a wonderful article in Vogue Magazine written by Michelle Ruiz. I think that’s when that article came out, that’s when Annie (Anne Hathaway) signed on and then the rights were purchased and it kind of took off. Up until that point I was just kind of like shepherding this little baby book that I had wanted the world to see and read and experience and to know this woman’s journey and to know that as women we are expected to put others happiness before our own so often, and just as we’re coming into our power, we’re told that we’re no longer desirable and we don’t have value, our value is diminishing. It’s really painful to see that out there and to see it in our culture reproduced over and over again. I just wanted to change the discussion and open us up to something new and show our power and show that we’re these multilayered human beings. We are capable of running businesses and also having crazy sex and being madly in love and being a great mom. We can do all that, so it was really important for me to kind of get that out there.

Source: Kristina Bumphrey / Getty

On what it was like having Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine play the characters she wrote:

They did a really great job. I write visually when I’m setting a scene but I can’t necessarily see the characters’ face. I have a feel for the characters I’m writing but I didn’t cast it in my head and so it’s really interesting to see actors step into the roles. It’s like, ‘Oh that’s Solène’s face, so that’s Hayes’ face!’ I feel like they inhabited them both very well, very specifically, and they’ve made them their own. That’s all you can ask from an actor, is that they respect the work that they’re being given and that they fully inhabit it and they give it 100%. I think they both do that and the commitment is on the screen. Their chemistry is beautiful and the emotional scenes are wonderful and you feel the full arc.

The Idea Of You is currently streaming on Prime Video


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