Harry Styles — yes, the Harry Styles — is taking his story to the small screen.
The 24-year-old singer, who rose to stardom as one of the members of One Direction and released his first solo album last year, will executive-produce a new fall show for CBS. The sitcom, which is called Happy Together, stars Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West as a 30-something married couple who is happily settled into their quiet lives in suburbia — until a young pop star, played by Australian actor Felix Mallard, unexpectedly moves in with them. (
So what’s Styles’ connection to the series? Well, as it turns out, the plot is based on a formative period in the artist’s real life. In the early stages of One Direction’s feverish success, fresh off of their X Factor introduction, Styles ended up crashing with his friend and mentor Ben Winston, then a filmmaker and now Emmy-winning executive producer of The Late Late Show With James Corden. (Winston will also executive-produce Happy Together.)
“Although the series is inspired by when Ben and Harry lived together, that’s where the reality ends. The show is not based on real life experiences and characters,” according to CBS.
At the time, per Rolling Stone, Styles had just moved out of his family home in Cheshire and needed a place to stay while work was being done on his new place. He asked if he could briefly move in with Winston and his wife, Meredith, who lived in the suburbs of London. While she initially agreed to have him stay for two weeks, Styles ended up sleeping on a mattress in the Winstons’ attic for 20 months.
“Those 20 months were when they went from being on a reality show, X Factor, to being the biggest-selling artists in the world,” Winston told the magazine last year. “That period of time, he was living with us in the most mundane suburban situation. No one ever found out, really. Even when we went out for a meal, it’s such a sweet family neighborhood, no one dreamed it was actually him. But he made our house a home. And when he moved out, we were gutted.”
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Speaking to PEOPLE at the CBS Upfront in New York City on Wednesday, the stars of the show opened up about Styles’ level of involvement.
“I got to chat with him when were first deciding to do the show and he’s really excited,” said Mallard, 20. “He’s really keen. He knows that it’s a story based on his life, and he gets to produce a TV show which is fantastic for his career. So I think he really, really does care.”
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And while Mallard admits there’s definitely some pressure that comes with impersonating one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, he’s found comfort in the fact that the series doesn’t aim to be a direct representation of Styles’ life. But that doesn’t mean the singer won’t be invested!
“This is his story, and even though we’re not telling it exactly as it happened, people are going to ask questions — like, ‘Did this really happen to you?’ ” said Stevens West, 31. “So he’s going to care about the stories that we’re telling. I think he’s going to have a pretty strong presence as a producer.”
“I feel like he’s a busy boy,” added Wayans Jr., 35. “But I’m happy that he slapped his name on this to help legitimize the story that this is based off of.”
And Mallard, who has been playing the guitar for 12 years, dreams of hitting the studio with Styles one day.
“I’ve been playing music for so long — guitar, bass, drums, piano. I played in a band in high school and we still jam every now and then,” he said. “I wrote some stuff with some friends back home and we’re looking to release that. It’s so much fun. It’s such a huge part of my life and I feel very fortunate that I get to do it with this show. Hopefully I get to jam with Harry! That’d be insane.”