All Four Beatles Were Originally to Appear in ‘Yesterday’
The light-hearted comedy film tells the story of Jack Malik, who wakes up after an accident to discover he’s the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles, and sets about using their music to make himself a star. In one scene, Malik – played by Himesh Patel – meets Lennon, who’d never found success as an artist but as a result wasn’t murdered in 1980.
“I remember thinking, that is just fantastic,” director Danny Boyle told Empire of the scene. “Because you think you’re in one kind of movie, and then for a moment it just allows you to sit in something wondrous.” He added: “There’s something very acute about the violence, the senselessness, of what John faced for a moment. Gone way before nature really took any kind of toll… it’s particularly acute for that.”
Curtis said that he imagined Lennon might have been inspired by living in the port city of Liverpool. “[Y]ou get the sense that he’s been a sailor, that he’s travelled around the world, that he’s been political. He says at one point that he's fought for a lot of things and won once or twice, and also that he's made some brave decisions on love, as John did,” Curtis explains. “We're not specific about who with, but it's the idea that he had to fight to get love right, which John did.”
In early versions of the script, Curtis had Malik running into George Harrison and Ringo Starr in a Liverpool pub. “It was, I hope, a sweet scene, and they were just two delightful, oldish men who'd once been in a band together,” he said. “[T]hey were clearly music enthusiasts who had never got any further. Happy people who loved music, like so many of us do, and formed a band or been in a pub band.”
Paul McCartney would have made an appearance at the movie’s close, with references made to the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four,” Curtis said. “At the very end [Jack] was going to move to the Isle of Wight, to a cottage, and you were going to hear outside his window someone saying, 'Vera, Chuck, Dave!' There were going to be three dogs, and Paul was going to be walking them.”
On the decision to have only Lennon appear, Curtis said: “It was the scene that had the most meaning, and was in some ways the pivotal scene of the film.”