In an exclusive Screen Rant interview, Yesterday director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis discuss why Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr don’t have cameos. The British romantic comedy features an alternate universe where The Beatles never existed, allowing the protagonist to become famous by performing the band’s catalog of hits.
Yesterday stars Himish Patel as Jack Malik, a Suffolk musician who struggles to pay the bills. He receives support from long-time friend and manager Ellie Appleton (Lily James), whose primary job is teaching children. After an international power outage, a near-tragedy leaves Jack in the hospital and he soon learns that McCartney, Starr, George Harrison, and John Lennon never became famous as The Beatles. Incidentally, Jack creates a master plan to perform The Beatles’ music and takes full credit as the creative genius behind the work. Produced for $26 million, Yesterday has earned just over $6 million at the box office since releasing on June 28 in the United Kingdom, and includes supporting performances from Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live), Lamorne Morris (Game Night), and English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran as himself.
While speaking with Screen Rant's Alex Leadbeater, Yesterday’s director and screenwriter revealed why the two surviving Beatles don’t have cameos. Curtis explains that, in his experiences, “all your favorite scenes eventually get cut.” He goes on to address the complications of filming a cameo scene with a celebrity, only to realize that the sequence may not necessarily work to the film’s advantage. “Then, you would have an enemy for life,” Curtis says. Meanwhile, Boyle notes that McCartney and Starr do conceptually appear in Yesterday, as one particular sequence involving The Late Late Show with James Corden shows the surviving Beatles in the studio audience. Check out Screen Rant's interview with Boyle and Curtis below.
Yesterday changes the past to highlight The Beatles’ musical talent and legacy. Original member George Harrison passed away in 2001, while fellow Beatle John Lennon was tragically murdered in 1980 at the age of 40. Though Yesterday doesn’t include any real-life Beatles, the film does feature an extended cameo sequence from a music icon. To properly execute the scene, Boyle made sure to speak with the appropriate people [SPOILER HERE]. In the past, the English filmmaker has released acclaimed films such as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and Steve Jobs. As for Yesterday’s screenwriter, Curtis is perhaps best known as the scribe of popular romantic comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones's Diary.
Since Yesterday’s release, the film has unsurprisingly received mixed reviews from critics and fans. Given the magnitude of The Beatles’ legacy, fans appreciate the music for various reasons, whether it’s the musical production, the songwriting, or the creative concepts. Regardless of how one relates (or doesn’t) to Yesterday, the film hits the mark by highlighting the universal appeal of The Beatles’ music.