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NME Festival blog: ‘Yesterday”s Richard Curtis, Danny Boyle, and Himesh Patel on teasing Ed Sheeran and imagining a world without The Beatles


The new film presents a reality where only one man remembers the music of The Beatles

In Yesterday, the new film from British cinema giants Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle, something terrifying has happened – the music of The Beatles has been erased from history. Only one man (or so he thinks) still possesses the knowledge of the greatest back catalogue ever written and, as luck would have it, he’s a struggling singer-songwriter by the name of Jack Malik (played by former Eastenders star Himesh Patel).

While on a mission to remind the world of the Fab Four’s musical contributions, Malik ends up becoming an overnight success himself, playing tunes like the titular ‘Yesterday’ and ‘The Long And Winding Road’ to people who have no idea who John Lennon and Paul McCartney are.

“It’s an extraordinary idea that one guy could take responsibility for all these songs,” director Boyle told NME. “He tries to explain to people – he tries to tell them, ‘No, Paul McCartney wrote that song’ and people say, ‘Who?’ Eventually, he can’t help but accept the fame and become more popular than Jesus, which is sort of his trajectory. He gets catapulted – a bit like the Ed Sheeran story really.”

Sheeran, coincidentally, plays himself in a fairly major role in Yesterday, where he isn’t exactly treated with the respect a global star might expect. “He must be teased because of the fact he’s had so much success and still hasn’t cut his hair,” joked Curtis of the ribbing the singer-songwriter receives. 

The ‘Shape Of You’ star didn’t take the mockery lying down, though, as Boyle confirmed. “He gives it as well,” he laughed. “He teased us rotten cos he found out we’d asked Chris Martin first for that part so he never let us forget that.”

Yesterday is released in cinemas on June 28.



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