Ed Sheeran, Lily James, Himesh Patel Hit Yellow Carpet for London's 'Yesterday' Premiere

Yesterday-London Premiere-Getty-H 2019
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The stars came out for Richard Curtis' musical comedy drama on a wet night in Leicester Square.

Yesterday may have been the film title, but Yellow Submarine was perhaps a better Beatles analogy on Tuesday night in London.

Following an afternoon of heavy showers, the special yellow carpet laid down for the Yesterday U.K. premiere in Leicester Square had transformed into a somewhat soggy affair. But that didn’t stop the stars of Universal’s musical comedy — and a sizable number of fans — turning out in force, albeit with umbrellas at the ready.

Kate McKinnon, Lily James, Ed Sheeran and newcomer (and lead star) Himesh Patel were among the castmembers in attendance, alongside the multi-award-winning duo of director Danny Boyle and writer Richard Curtis, working together for the first time, plus Universal's top brass including Donna Langley and Jeff Shell. 

Yesterday — which first bowed in Tribeca and is due for release in the U.S. and U.K. on June 28 — tells the story of a struggling singer-songwriter (Patel) who, after an accident, wakes up to discover that he's the only person on the planet who knows the songs of The Beatles, using this to his advantage to become a pop sensation.

Boyle took time to praise his lead, claiming that he had "saved our film" after his casting directors had struggled to find anyone, adding that not only was it his first major film role, but it was a role that required him to learn 17 Beatles songs. 

"And he had an ownership of the songs," he said. "He did an acoustic version of 'Back in the U.S.S.R.' and I started dancing in the audition room, which is not what a director should be doing."

Boyle added that it was "so typical of The Beatles" that they would sanction a film in which they are effectively erased from history. 

Curtis, meanwhile, revealed that The Beatles were the "single thing in the world I care the most about," retelling a story from his childhood in which he faked a temperature while at boarding school so as to be able to listen to The White Album have its first broadcast on the BBC. "I would do anything for The Beatles."

Sheeran — who has a significant part in the film, with Yesterday marking his biggest acting role to date — was widely commended across the board. "He was the best, so humble, and turns out he's an incredible actor," said McKinnon, while Boyle claimed he was "hugely generous."

The singer, who received the biggest cheers on the night from the crowds, said he was invited around to dinner with Curtis, his wife Emma Freud, and Boyle, where they "started asking all these questions," admitting that elements of the story was "loosely based" on his life and phenomenal rise to fame. "It's flattering," he added. 

Onstage before the screening, Tim Bevan of production house Working Title Films, gave a shout-out to Universal, saying that 2019 marked the 20th year of his company's overall deal with the studio. "I think this is actually our 70th film together," he added.