Few of us would willingly choose to live in a world where the Beatles never existed. But then again, the characters in the new film, Yesterday, don’t really have much say in the matter. Written by Richard Curtis and directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), the movie takes place in an alternate reality where the Fab Four never emerged out of Liverpool to teach the world to sing along to such classic songs as “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.”
But those tunes do play on a loop in one person’s head: Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), a struggling singer-songwriter and the only person on Earth who remembers John, Paul, George and Ringo. “He’s living in a world where the Beatles never existed — but for him they did,” Patel explains in a new featurette. (Watch the exclusive video above.)
Because the Liverpool lads aren’t international superstars in his new reality, Jack himself finds fame and fortune by performing their songs as his own. His musical abilities capture the imagination of such mega-selling artists as Ed Sheeran, who plays a version of himself in Yesterday. “Jack knows he’s only there because he’s singing Beatles songs,” Sheeran says. “So the whole time he’s just kind of like, ‘Will I get found out?’”
Besides having his cover as a songwriting savant blown, Jack’s main concern is holding onto his musical collaborator — and love of his life — Ellie (Lily James), who gets left behind as his career takes off. “The magic at the core of the movie is really between Jack and Ellie,” Patel emphasizes. You might say that all they need is love.
Yesterday opens in theaters on June 28.
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