Their seemingly bizarre journey to mega-stardom is played out in the documentary, "One Direction: This Is Us," which premieres Aug. 30. Directed by Morgan Spurlock, the film follows the boys from their hometowns to landing a spot on the "X-Factor," to performing at London's O2 arena -- harkening back to the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night," though the group said they don't see themselves as the new Beatles.
"The Beatles are the Beatles," Malik said.
"It's such a legacy," Payne said. "I couldn't put us in the same vein as having a legacy."
However, one major element they do share with the Beatles, and that the film does capture, is the throngs of thousands of screaming young female fans that not only flood One Direction's sold-out shows but also camp out outside of their hotels when the band is on tour. Several of their fans have taken to social media, expressing their love for One Direction in ways boy bands of the past never experienced before, which One Direction credits for their growing fame.
Still young themselves, the group members said they found it "humbling" that many of their fans see them as role models -- something the guys seemed intimidated by.
"I do think it's quite scary, being known as a role model," Payne said."We don't go around confessing to be role models or something like that. Because, you know, we might make mistakes in the long run."
"We're the five idiots that they knew from three years ago, and we still are," Horan said.
But the one thing that is missing from the film? Their girlfriends.
"We wanted to show what the band is about," Malik said. "And obviously, our girlfriends are too personal to us individually. So we didn't really want to show our individual personal lives."
"We've never been a band that has lied about having girlfriends," Styles said. "It wasn't a thing that we kept back on purpose."
"It would have been awkward as well ... to be spending [time] with your girlfriend and just have cameras with you," Payne chimed in.
Three of the five said they were "taken." Styles and Horan said they are still single. For one, being taken meant wedding bells. Malik announced last week that he was engaged to Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards, sending shockwaves around the world. Though he said he didn't have wedding details to share, Malik said he told his band mates before the news was "in the papers."
In the face of constantly being in the spotlight, the guys argue they have come a long way since they made their debut three years ago.
"Nobody expects us to have any control over anything that we do, but actually, it's the exact opposite," Tomlinson said. "The longer that we stay in the band, the more control that we feel like we're getting over everything. So, you know, it's very important for us to be over every part of the project, really, because the brand is 'us' at the end of the day."
"It's a completely different scale of life for us," Payne said. "We're just normal lads trying to find our feet in such an extreme circumstance."