Danny Boyle on Yesterday: 'Himesh was a gift to us making the film, and all I had to do was make sure we didn't ruin it'
- Eddie Harrison
- 24 June 2019
Oscar-winning director discusses his latest film, in which the world forgets about the Beatles
It's an early public screening of Yesterday, Danny Boyle's rom-com fantasy in which one man pretends to have written the Beatles' back catalogue. Some large, bald men in rugby shirts talk noisily through the opening scenes. They're abruptly silenced when Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) performs the song 'Yesterday', then they begin singing along with the rest of the songs and applaud at the end.
'What age were they?' asks Boyle the next day. 'Forties? Fifties? It's interesting for me to know how different people respond. Obviously, if you've got knowledge of the songs, then the film has got an extra cache … someone asked me, what does a black guy in his 20s care about the Beatles? But there's something about these songs that you just have to admire, it doesn't matter what your cultural background is.'
One of the surprising things about Yesterday is Boyle's involvement; unlike writer, Richard Curtis, he wasn't really a fan of the Fab Four.
'Richard is a (Beatles) nut. He remembers being outside a hotel they were staying in in Sweden when he was eight years old, waiting for them to come out on a balcony. He can tell you where he was when each record came out. I can't. David Bowie, or The Clash, perhaps, but not the Beatles. I don't have that kind of personal connection, just an appreciation for their music. People ask, could you do a film like this about The Rolling Stones, or other bands? But it wouldn't have the resonance. There's something about the personality of the group, and there's a melancholy, even in their most upbeat songs.'