When is Yesterday released in cinemas? Who’s in the cast and what’s it about?

Everything you need to know about The Beatles fantasy comedy Yesterday starring former EastEnders actor Himesh Patel

Yesterday

Yesterday is a new film from Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis set in an imaginary world where no one knows about The Beatles – apart from one young, struggling musician called Jack.

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Who’s in the cast, what’s the film about and which songs by The Beatles feature in the soundtrack?

Here’s everything you need to know…

When is Yesterday released in cinemas?

Yesterday will hit UK and US cinemas on 28th June 2019.

What is Yesterday about? 

Yesterday is a fantasy comedy centring around Jack, an unsuccessful musician involved in a car accident. When he wakes up, he is the only person in the world who remembers Beatles songs.

Jack performs the famous hits across the world – including in Moscow, Los Angeles and Liverpool – and is propelled to stardom, at the risk of losing his best friend. 

Who’s in the cast of Yesterday? 

Himesh Patel (who used to play Tamwar Masood in EastEnders) leads the cast as Jack, and is joined by Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Jack’s best friend Ellie, Lamorne Morris (New Girl) as his head of marketing and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters) as his money-obsessed manager Debra.

Talking about leaving EastEnders for a movie career, Patel told The Graham Norton Show: “It seems to be going well. I imagine a lot of people on EastEnders thought, ‘We’ll see him in a year’s time!’”

Ed Sheeran, Lily James and Himesh Patel at the Yesterday premiere in London's Leicester Square
Ed Sheeran, Lily James and Himesh Patel at the Yesterday premiere in London’s Leicester Square

Real-life couple Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar (who co-starred in The Kumars at No. 42) are also in the cast as Jack’s parents and Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) appears as a Liverpudlian woman called Liz.

The film also features Ed Sheeran, who plays himself, and includes a cameo from James Corden.

On working with Sheeran, Patel said: “I thought it would be so surreal and continue to feel surreal every time I saw him on set, but he is freakishly down to earth and relaxed. He just hung out with us. He did give me some advice about playing to a stadium. He said, ‘When the adrenaline is really going the crowd becomes a blob, so play to the blob.”

Is there a trailer for Yesterday? 

There certainly is, here you go…

Who wrote and directed Yesterday?

Yesterday is directed by Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire) and written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral). Here are the pair posing together at the film’s London premiere:

Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis at the Yesterday premiere, Getty

Speaking about the film’s concept, Boyle told The LA Times: “It’s like what Paul [McCartney] has said about [the song] Yesterday: he just woke up and played it, and for a long time he was certain he had stolen it because it came to him so fully formed, and seemed so familiar.

“He didn’t know how it arrived, but it is one of the world’s most perfect songs. We still don’t understand these things. Maybe it will all be revealed one day; maybe it won’t.”

Why has Yesterday been controversial?

Yesterday has had positive reviews and proven a hit with cinema-goers, but one scene in particular has attracted some controversy.

WARNING: SPOILERS

Danny Boyle and Himesh Patel, Getty Images
Danny Boyle and Himesh Patel, Getty Images

In it, Jack meets a mysterious figure who turns out to be John Lennon, who – in this alternate universe – was never assassinated.

Some viewers argued the scene was in poor taste, but Boyle told RadioTimes.com at the South Bank Show Awards that “he never had any doubts,” about including it.

“It was a wonderful, integral part of the script, he added, “and that was a real kind of honour to do that really, and sets  — it sets off different feelings in different people, yeah. For sure. Many, many people love it as well, yeah.”

Which Beatles songs will feature in the Yesterday soundtrack? Is it Himesh Patel singing and playing the guitar? 

Naturally, the 1965 hit Yesterday features in the film. The soundtrack is a mixture of Beatles covers from the movie performed by Patel (listen above), as well as a duet by Patel & James.

Let it Be, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Something and Hey Jude also feature on the soundtrack.

“The Beatles’ music was incredibly expensive,” Boyle told The Graham Norton Show. “It was the second most expensive thing I’ve ever put in a movie.”

Asked what the first was, he said: “Leonardo DiCaprio!”

Boyle added: “We talked to the remaining Beatles and the widows of the others and they all wrote beautiful letters. And, when I decided to call it Yesterday, I thought I’d better ask Paul McCartney if it was okay to use.

“He wrote back and said the original title of the song was Scrambled Eggs, and perhaps we should call the film that. It would have worked well if it had been a mess!”

What do The Beatles think of Yesterday? 

According to Reuters, both Ringo Starr and Olivia Harrison, widow of late Beatle George Harrison, have seen and endorsed the film.

It’s less clear whether Paul McCartney has seen the finished product, but Boyle said on the red carpet of the film’s London premiere: “I don’t think Paul has seen the movie, but he’s seen the trailer and he said ‘Oh that seems to work!’”

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The director added that he had written to John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.