Warning! SPOILERS for Yesterday.
Danny Boyle's Yesterday contains a big shock: John Lennon is alive in the film's alternate reality! However, the actor who plays Lennon might be a mystery to viewers. Yesterday's unusual concept posits a world where the Beatles and their music never existed after a magical incident called the Blackout changed key elements of history. After the Blackout, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) seems to be the only person who remembers the Beatles and he becomes rich and famous performing their music while posing as its creator.
Of course, in the real world, John Lennon was one of the founding members of the Beatles, alongside Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The Beatles are the most commercially successful band of all-time and Lennon and McCartney are a legendary songwriting duo responsible for their greatest hits. The Beatles broke up in 1969, whereupon Lennon began a solo career and later formed a new band, the Plastic Ono Band, with his wife Yoko Ono. Tragically, John was murdered on December 8, 1980, when he was shot repeatedly by a man named Mark David Chapman.
In new movie, Jack is shocked to discover a 78-year-old John Lennon alive and well, living a quiet and peaceful life in the British seaside. An uncredited Robert Carlyle plays John Lennon in Yesterday. However, some fans may not recognize Carlyle due to the actor's uncanny resemblance to the late Beatle (which is accentuated with a bit of makeup, a wig, and Lennon's famous circle-frame glasses).
For his part, Robert Carlyle is an award-winning actor and a longtime friend of director Danny Boyle; in the 1990s, Carlyle gained fame by starring as the dangerous criminal Francis Begbie in Boyle's Trainspotting and he returned for its sequel, T2 Trainspotting. Carlyle also won the BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in the international hit The Full Monty. He then made his blockbuster franchise debut as the villainous Renard in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. More recently, Carlyle appeared in 24: Redemption, played Mr. Gold aka Rumplestiltskin in the TV series Once Upon A Time, and he will appear in the BBC's remake of War of the Worlds.
Yesterday doesn't address the whereabouts of the other Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. It's possible George, who died in 2001, remains so in the movie's revised timeline, but Paul and Ringo could still be alive. At the very least, the surviving two Beatles haunt Jack Malik's dreams in Yesterday as he's tortured by his guilt over the fact that he's fraudulently passing himself off as the author of the Beatles' music. Ultimately, George is only mentioned in Yesterday, while Paul and Ringo appear in Jack's nightmare where they confront him on The Late Late Show with James Corden - although their faces are never shown.
Rather, Yesterday brings the house down by revealing John Lennon is alive, which was a stunningly brave move by the filmmakers. Indeed, Jack meeting John was the poignant moment that forced Jack to realize what he really wants in life: the love of his manager and best friend Ellie Appleton (Lily James), which is the true heart of Yesterday's story.
- Yesterday (2019) release date: Jun 28, 2019