Nicholas Galitzine Says First Chemistry Read with Anne Hathaway for “The Idea of You” Was 'Transformative' (Exclusive)

The actor tells PEOPLE he knew there was a "chemistry" and a "connection" between him and Hathaway right away, "which is rare"

<p>Alisha Wetherill/Prime</p> Nicholas Galitzine in

Alisha Wetherill/Prime

Nicholas Galitzine in 'The Idea of You'

Nicholas Galitzine knew there was something special about Anne Hathaway right away.

The actor, 29, tells PEOPLE that things were “amazing” with Hathaway, 41, from the start of their first chemistry read for The Idea of You, which premiered at the closing night of SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.

“The chemistry read was kind of transformative. As an actor you oftentimes go into those rooms with so much trepidation, and it was so open,” Galitzine recalls of his first time meeting the Oscar winner. “And I kind of remember leaving the room going, 'You know, if this doesn't work out, I am really proud of the work that I did, even in this space.’ ”

Galitzine was “asked to bring a song and convince Annie to dance with me” during the chemistry read, he says. “And that was very anxiety-producing because I am not a dancer, and it's also hard, you know, you're meeting someone for the first time and you don't want it to be weird, but with those things you kind of have to go all in.”

“And it was so open and I think it was really at that moment that we kind of knew that there was a connection — that there was a chemistry there and it was so much fun in that audition, which is rare to say,” he continues of Hathaway.

The following day, he says, he was “overjoyed” when he got a call and the team “said they wanted me to be their Hayes.”

<p>Michael Buckner/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty</p> Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway at the SXSW premiere of 'The Idea of You' on March 16, 2024

Michael Buckner/SXSW Conference & Festivals via Getty

Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway at the SXSW premiere of 'The Idea of You' on March 16, 2024

Related: Anne Hathaway Wanted to ‘Tell the Story of a Woman Blooming’ in The Idea of You: ‘Incredibly Moved’ (Exclusive)

In The Idea of You, an adaptation of Robinne Lee’s 2017 novel of the same name, Galitzine plays 20-year-old Hayes, a world famous boy band member who finds love unexpectedly with divorcée Soléne (Hathaway) after a chance encounter at Coachella.

To fit the role, the Red, White & Royal Blue star had to go to “boy band boot camp” where he learned “how to dance” and how to “feel comfortable with my stage presence,” as the fictional boy band August Moon performed and recorded real music as part of the film.

“We didn't perform in front of 80,000 people, but 500 supporting artists [were] there watching us so it was kind of like doing a mini concert in a way,” he tells PEOPLE of the preparation that went into the role. “It's like embodying the confidence of a pop star.”

<p>Prime Video</p> Fictional boy band August Moon from 'The Idea of You'

Prime Video

Fictional boy band August Moon from 'The Idea of You'

While the first look at the film has drawn comparisons between his character, Hayes, and Harry Styles, Galitzine has set the record straight on how influenced he was by Styles — whom the book's author admittedly was inspired by when writing the story.

"We tried to create a character that felt maybe akin to Harry in the sense that's he a younger man dating older women," he told BuzzFeed UK. "It was important to create someone who felt new and original and not a sort of shoddy impersonation of this person that we know really well."

Related: The Idea of You Trailer: Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine Get Swept Up in Steamy Romance

<p>Daniel Boczarski/Getty</p> Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine at the premiere of "The Idea of You" at SXSW in Austin, Texas

Daniel Boczarski/Getty

Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine at the premiere of "The Idea of You" at SXSW in Austin, Texas

Following the film’s screening at SXSW, Galitzine expanded further on his and Hathaway’s instant chemistry during the audition process during a moderated Q&A with the cast.

“Someone came up with this idea that the actors doing this chemistry test should bring a song that they wanted to use essentially to convince Soléne to get up and dance with him. And again, [for] someone like me, who is not a dancer, this was incredibly intimidating,” he said.

“But in all seriousness, I remember — these rooms for actors they can be extremely intimidating at times and extremely unnatural in a lot of ways — but there was something almost spiritual that kind of happened there where I felt this immediate connection to Annie, and we had a simpatico and a shared sense of humor and it was just very easy.”

From “that first day on set, it was there,” he added of their chemistry.

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Hathaway agreed, and shared a memory from the first day of shooting the Prime Video film where she and Galitzine had to swim despite freezing temperatures in Atlanta.

She recalled, “At at one point we just looked at each other and we were holding on to each other for dear life for warmth and, I don't know, but from that moment on — till the last moment some 20 hours later — I just looked at him and I was like, 'I am in good hands on this one. I've got a great partner. We could not have landed better.' And I still feel that way.”

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