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Himesh Patel & Lily James Interview: Yesterday

Yesterday may be ostensibly imagining a world with the music of The Beatles, but what it really is - fitting of being written by Richard Curtis - is a romantic comedy. At the heart of the film is the relationship between Jack Malik, the one person in the world who remembers the work of John, Paul, George and Ringo, and Ellie Appleton, his long-smitten manager.

Screen Rant sat down at the very windy and noisy Liverpool dock to talk with Himesh Patel and Lily James, the actor who bring Jack and Ellie to life, about working on Yesterday.

Which Beatles song do you wish you could have had in the film that you didn't get to play?

Himesh Patel: Blackbird is a really beautiful song and I actually recently started trying to learn it and it's beautiful.

The world of this is so much fun and what's great is that it's not just The Beatles that disappeared, there's so many other things - cigarettes, Coke - that's disappeared. Did you get any chances to collaborate with Danny and Richard on what wasn't in the world?

HP: No, I think they'd kind of decided, really. It was fun to remember when the scene came up to shoot, "oh yeah, Coke doesn't exist," and that kind of thing. So it was fun.

Lily James It was quite random.

This movie has some great cameos. Ed Sheeran has quite an extended bit, and what I like about that is how willing he seems to be to take the piss out of himself. How was he to work with and how was he in terms of being game to have a laugh at his expense?

HP: Completely game. I mean, he was really wonderful to work with, he came to rehearsal like anyone else would. He didn't come with any idea of who he is. He sells out stadiums around the world but you wouldn't know it. He's just a really lovely normal guy and it meant that working with him as an actor was really great fun.

Himesh Patel from Yesterday 2019

In terms of the actual performances, what was your favorite song to perform?

HP: I really loved "I Saw Her Standing There". All the songs we did actually together in the little studio there by the railway tracks, I mean, that was a really fun day and I think maybe it was because we were actually all there together and that we got to play stuff together. It was quite fun.

LJ: It was a night shoot as well, wasn't it. It was all quite hectic and there was this spirit of just, like, getting what we could and grabbing things and they were shooting handheld sometimes and there was a real spirit of faithfulness.

HP: And we were actually waiting for the trains to go past. There'd be one-carriage trains and they had a little schedule of the train timetable and they were like, "there's a train coming past in exactly five minutes..."

[foghorn blares]

HP: Exactly like that.

It sounds like this film had a real, independent spirit, even though you're making it with two absolute legends of filmmaking. Did it have that feel? 

HP: Yeah, I mean, you shoot on location. I think Danny really thrives off that. He keeps his films to a certain budget for that reason, he wants that kind of vibe of collaboration. He wants it to feel like a family kind ofthing.

LJ: Felt really intimate. And he works with the same people again and again. It's so collaborative.

To put you a bit on the spot, talking about Danny and Richard, what's your favorite Danny Boyle film and what's your favorite Richard Curtis film?

HP: I really love Four Weddings [and a Funeral]. I think Four Weddings, I think it deals with these beautiful emotions, extreme emotions that we feel, like the joy of matrimony, but then also that grief is such an important thing. Danny, I mean, pick one. Richard, I did, but I guess... 127 hours. We talked about that recently, that's a real feat of technicality and kind of concentration. How do you keep an audience concentrating on a man who's just got his arm under a rock...

LJ: Get his arm cut off.  I'm so loud in the cinema. I love Love, Actually. I love Slumdog Millionaire.

Next: Yesterday: Every Beatles Song In The Movie

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