Himesh Patel learned to perform nearly two dozen classic songs from the Beatles for Yesterday, the new high-concept rom-com in which he stars as a failing musician who wakes up from a bike accident to discover he's the only one alive who remembers rock's greatest band.
Yet he auditioned with a Coldplay song.
Patel, 29, best known for the BBC series EastEnders, only knew that the secret project was a musical directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting), and that he had to perform one Coldplay track of his choice. So he picked "We Never Change," because "it was a sweet song," but also one of the band's more acoustic-driven singles, Patel explained to Yahoo Entertainment during a recent stop by our Los Angeles studios (watch above).
As for why Boyle wanted Patel to play a Coldplay song and not one from the Beatles' extensive catalog? In addition to the filmmaker wanting to keep the film's subject material under wraps, Patel reveals that there was originally going to be a performance in the film by Coldplay's frontman, Chris Martin. The part — a famous musician who helps “discover” Patel's Jack Malik and his surprising catalog of instant classics — was ultimately played by Ed Sheeran.
Once he landed the role, Patel spent more than two months in a London office that was designed to mirror Jack's bedroom. There, the actor and the film's musical advisors perfected their versions of Beatles favorites, including "I Saw Her Standing There," "Hey Jude," "Let It Be," and "All You Need Is Love."
Patel didn't have any contact with the surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. But he did note that Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually) reached out to them, as well as the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, for their blessings.
And their feedback on the film so far has apparently been positive.
"I think Ringo's seen it, and has sent a nice note to Danny, as has Olivia Harrison," Patel said. "If they feel that we've captured something truthful about things that were very close to them, then I guess we've done something good."
Yesterday opens Friday. Watch the trailer:
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