Robinne Lee Fulfills Fantasies and Exposes the Dark Side of Fame
Tue, 05/02/2022 - 11:19am — Guest
Late one night in the spring of 2014, I was surfing YouTube when I came across the face of a boy I’d never seen, in a band I’d never paid attention to. It was the kind of exquisitely assembled face that makes you stop whatever you’re doing and take notice. And then perhaps lose an hour or two Googling. I’ve been known to be obsessive. My research revealed that this boy had a penchant for dating older women. And so the seed was planted.
When my husband returned from his business trip a few days later, I joked that I was leaving him and our two kids and running off to find the pop star, and oh, by the way, he was half my age. My husband had a good laugh and then in a moment of clarity, he said, “You know, that would make a great book.”
He’d no sooner said it than I could see the story playing out. The fantasy, the drama, the suspense, the excitement. There was so much there to explore!
In my early twenties, while I was acting and freelance writing in New York (I’m Jamaican, so multiple jobs), I managed a singing group that was produced by one of the members of the New Kids on the Block. They were at the height of their fame when I first met them and I saw up close the craziness that surrounds a group of that magnitude. The fans, the girls, the magic. I knew that world. I knew that life. I welcomed the thrill of recreating it!
It came to me relatively quickly: Solène Marchand, a sophisticated, divorced woman on the cusp of forty, owner of a renowned art gallery, mother to an almost-teen daughter infatuated with August Moon, a British boy band. When her ex-husband reneges on a promise to take the daughter and friends to Las Vegas to meet the band, Solène steps in as chaperone. It’s at the meet-and-greet that she first sets eyes on Hayes Campbell, confident, clever, posh, and all of twenty. They flirt, he invites Solène and her brood to an after-party, and the two make a connection. Their courtship plays out over a series of arranged rendez-vous in numerous cities around the globe. It is impassioned and intense and leads to unexpected consequences.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted this story to cross genres. I knew there would be a certain amount of wish fulfillment with the subject matter. Who among us wouldn’t jump at the chance for a whirlwind romance with a comely pop star? But it was important to me that this story was also smart and reflective of the reality of women who are no longer ingénues.
I wanted to examine what it is to be a woman approaching middle age and challenging society’s ideas of what we should and should not do. Who we should love. How we define ourselves. What we sacrifice for another’s happiness. I wanted to address the idea that women become invisible just as many of us are coming into our own. That we’ve been given a sell-by date that’s linked primarily to youthful looks and our culture’s ideas of desirability. I needed this woman to reclaim herself and her sexuality without guilt or remorse. And I wanted to do that all within the confines of an unconventional love story.
Additionally, I wanted to take a hard look at fame and fandoms. I wanted to show the darker side of celebrity — a side that as an actor I see too often. Over the years I’ve been lucky to work with many big stars. It’s being around people like Will Smith and Jamie Dornan that has given me insight into how different individuals regard their celebrity. I wanted to show the tension between fame and privacy. I wanted to explore how terrifying and debilitating it can be to suddenly find yourself the subject of media and public scrutiny. I wanted to approach all of this in an astute, honest way.
And then throw in some hot sex on the Riviera for good measure. Because life is short.
And so, what began as a late night YouTube obsession became The Idea of You.
— Robinne Lee
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