At the Tribeca Film Festival world premiere of the new Danny Boyle film ‘Yesterday,’ screenwriter Richard Curtis and new-coming star Himesh Patel talked about the film and what it meant to bring the Beatles to life in a brand new way.
After a worldwide blackout and a freak accident, singer/songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) realizes that he is the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles in the new film Yesterday. When Jack begins to pass off the music of the Beatles as his own, he finds amazing success at the expense of the life he never knew he took advantage of back at home.
Prior to the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, the star of the movie joined writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually, About Time) and the composer to speak to us at The Knockturnal about the making of the film and what it was like to play around with the greatest hits of the Beatles.
The Knockturnal: What did the Beatles mean to you before this movie? What was your favorite song to sing?
Himesh Patel: They mean to me… well, they’re the most iconic band in the world! My favorite song to sing is “The Long and Winding Road,” I really like that one.
The Knockturnal: What was it like getting the opportunity to work with Danny Boyle on your first big movie?
Himesh Patel: It was kind of mind-blowing, and then it turned out to be one of the best things in the world. He is so great to work with, so great with his actors and his crew, and it just meant that we were all always thrilled to do whatever he asked of us.
The Knockturnal: You’re a pretty big actor on TV in the UK, what is the biggest difference for you between film and television?
Himesh Patel: You have a bit more time with movies and the scale is larger, you know? You have cameras on helicopters and cameras on cranes and that kind of thing, especially when you are working with someone like Danny who can do that kind of stuff!
The Knockturnal: What did the Beatles mean to you before writing Yesterday?
Richard Curtis: They are one of the key factors in my life. I was a very obsessive fan of the Beatles, from when I was eight and I stood outside of the suite where I was living for three days and waited until they came out onto the balcony on the third day. I remember I pretended to be sick when they released The White Album because I knew they were going to play the whole thing. So I sat on the radiator until my temperature went up three degrees, so I could go to the nurse and say “I’m sick! I’m sick!” So I’ve always loved them, and whenever I need to feel happier or that life is wonderful, I listen to them.
The Knockturnal: Do you write differently when you’re writing for someone else to direct than when you’re directing yourself?
Richard Curtis: No, I’m just disappointed by my own direction when I finish the writer feels betrayed. But no, not really, just as I don’t really write for actors. I think you’ve just got to try and keep the story the same as you can.
The Knockturnal: This is your second time working with Danny Boyle. What is your relationship like?
Daniel Pemberton: It’s terrible! [Laughter] No, no it’s great. For a composer, he’s such a good director because he uses music so well, and like how kinetic his films are. So for a composer, it’s really exciting to work with someone like that, because he really appreciates the power and magic of music in a film. None more so than a film that is 100% about the power of music.
The Knockturnal: On that topic, Yesterday is all about the music of the Beatles. What was it like working on a project and using their music so heavily?
Daniel Pemberton: I mean, it’s an absolute honor and a bit terrifying. So it’s basically like “you’ve got these songs that are the greatest bits of art. Can you improve on those?” It’s hard, so you’ve got to find different ways to approach them to give them a slant. But from a compositional point of view, we tried to make the score very effective and influenced by their world of sound. Because they had a gift, so as a sonic palette they work with it’s fantastic.
Yesterday premiered May 4th at the Tribeca Film Festival