WARNING: A huge spoiler for the just-released film “Yesterday” is revealed below; proceed with caution.





In the new comedy “Yesterday”, the world experiences a mysterious global blackout that results in struggling singer-songwriter Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) becoming the sole person in the world to remember the music of The Beatles, which has somehow been wiped out of existence. Performing the Fab Four’s hits catapults Jack to fame and fortune in the latest from from director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”) and screenwriter Richard Curtis (“Love Actually”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”).

In a shocking twist in the film (here comes that spoiler!), Jack encounters an elderly John Lennon, who never became famous and thus was never assassinated.

Speaking with USA Today, Boyle admits he was initially taken aback by that scene the first time he read the script, but came to see including Lennon as an example of how “cinema, above all art forms, deals with and changes time,” explaining: “Somebody’s life was robbed and movies can give him back to us, just for a moment. And I love that about movies.”

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According to Boyle, that scene proved to be very polarizing in test screenings. “Some people that don’t like it at all,” he says. “But other people like it enormously. We call it a ‘Marmite scene’ in Britain. It divides people very clearly.”

One of those people who liked seeing Lennon resurrected was his former band mate Ringo Starr. “We sent everyone the finished film,” Boyle said, “and we got a lovely message from Ringo and [wife] Barbara [Bach], and a lovely message back from Olivia [Harrison], George’s widow. I don’t think Paul’s seen the film yet but he saw and liked the trailer.”

For those wondering about the identify of the actor playing Lennon in “Yesterday”, Boyle prefers to keep that a secret (neither the actor nor the character are listed in the film’s credits).

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“We worked very, very hard to make sure it remained a very pure moment,” Boyle explains. “I know the actor — and this wasn’t the reason for casting him — but I also knew that he was a John Lennon fan. He knew more than any of us about John. That was wonderful, because it was a proper reverence and respect, really. The only thing he asked was that he didn’t want a credit… to try and avoid drawing attention to it in any way other than its appearance in the story.”

Meanwhile, star Patel admits he finds it strange to think about the surviving Beatles watching him perform their music. “We got their blessing — the project wouldn’t have gone ahead without that — but I’m not sure if they’ve seen it,” the actor tells The Guardian. “It’s weird to think about a Beatle watching me sing their songs.”