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Paul McCartney got a kick out of Yesterday, a movie about him ceasing to exist

Photo: Samir Hussein (Getty Images)

[This article contains spoilers for Yesterday.]

Although much ink has been spilled about the absurdity inherent to Danny Boyle’s summer 2019 musical rom-com Yesterday—the movie in which humanity inexplicably forgets the Beatles, and so songwriter Himesh Patel decides to recreate and profit off of their vast and beloved body of work—little of it has been written from the point of view of what a weird goddamn movie this must have been for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, specifically. Certainly, we here at The A.V. Club would be weirded out if a high-profile director made a movie about us not existing—with some unknown usurper slipping in to fill our role of not liking DC Comics movies enough for the tastes of their myriad fans—and so it must be extremely strange for these two superstars to see a movie that’s literally predicated on the idea “Hey, what if you two guys (and your two dead friends), simply, you know, weren’t?”

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None of which appears to have actually stopped McCartney from enjoying the heck out of Boyle’s film. As revealed in a recent Billboard interview—and despite the fact that he declined to attend the movie’s premiere—McCartney later snuck into a screening of the film back when it was still in theaters, apparently giggling with wife Nancy Shevell from the back of the auditorium. “Especially,” in his own words, “At all the mentions of ‘Paul McCartney.’” Which must have been possibly even weirder for the handful of people sitting directly in front of them, and who were now forced to contend with sharing the theater with a non-existent person—especially when they got to the scene near the end of the movie, where it’s revealed that John Lennon is an extremely alive 78-year-old in the movie’s alternate universe. (Which, again, is an extremely bizarre thing to think about Paul McCartney watching; it would be like reading fan-fiction about your actual life.)

Both McCartney and Starr signed off on Boyle’s film during development, with the producers reportedly paying Apple Records several million dollars for the rights to the Beatles’ tunes. McCartney noted in the Billboard interview, though, that when writer Richard Curtis first approached him about it, he mentally responded with “This is a terrible idea.” (He was more polite to Curtis’ face, simply telling him “Good luck.”) He seems to have been charmed, though, by this strange universe in which he is somehow not the most looked-at or famous person in any given room; his ultimate review was an effusive, only slightly inexplicable “We loved it.”

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