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Game of Thrones alum Joel Fry on becoming the Yesterday scene-stealer — and not really knowing who Ed Sheeran was

Game of Thrones alum Joel Fry on becoming the Yesterday scene-stealer — and not really knowing who Ed Sheeran was

Ed Sheeran may be the most high-profile cast member in Yesterday, but it’s another Game of Thrones alum who steals the show.
Best known in the U.S. for his two-season run on the HBO juggernaut as Daenerys’ ill-fated betrothed Hizdahr zo Loraq, Joel Fry gets to do something he wasn’t afforded on Thrones: Be funny. In the film from Danny Boyle, the British actor plays Rocky, the roadie and best friend of Jack (Himesh Patel), a struggling musician who suddenly becomes the world’s next superstar after a blackout erases the Beatles from everyone’s memory, except his.

“It’s a totally different vibe altogether,” Fry says of going from Thrones to Yesterday. “It’s always interesting to try new things as much as you’re allowed and see where you end up.”
With the duo of Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis serving as his main attraction, Fry admits that it didn’t hurt how familiar he was with the Beatles — even if it wasn’t by choice. “It’s different here,” he says of growing up in the band’s homeland. “Even if you’re not a fan of the Beatles you just know their songs by default. I had probably got bored of the Beatles by the time I was like 15 because I thought I had heard enough. But then it was nice to be able to revisit them under these circumstances. They’re pretty out there. I don’t know how they were doing what they did back in the day, probably loads of LSD I should imagine [laughs].”

Despite the high concept, Yesterday is a rom-com at heart, focusing on the will-they-or-won’t-they status of childhood friends Jack and Ellie (Lily James). But when Jack makes it big, it’s Rocky that hits the road with him — and, thankfully, the actors’ working relationship was far from rocky. “It’s pretty easy and kind of lucky, we did just get on immediately,” shares Fry of connecting with Patel. “He’s cool and a really level-headed guy. He was nervous, man. It’s easy to be nice to someone who is really nervous and under so much pressure because you want to help them.”

And while Patel was mostly unknown to U.S. audiences considering Yesterday was his big screen debut, it was another British costar that Fry was surprisingly unfamiliar with. “To be honest, I recognized his face but I actually had no idea that he was so popular,” he admits of Sheeran, who has fun with a supporting role as himself. “I started looking into it more and realized this guy is so big and selling out all these stadiums. He added an interesting aspect to the film. No one really knew what he was going to be like; he might be terrible. And he’s lovely and couldn’t be any more normal.”

Fry adds of the memorable scene featuring Jack and Ed’s contest over who could quickly write the better tune: “I still remember that song in my head that Ed was singing. It was amazing to hear him sing like that because you realize, ‘Wow, this dude can sing.’ Luckily, Himesh can properly sing also. I’m pretty sure we got drunk the night before so it was an interesting day.”
Sounds like “Perfect” prep.
Yesterday is in theaters now.
Related content:
Yesterday is a sweet Beatles musical, but the whimsy turns sour
Kate McKinnon brings laughs, Lily James tears in these exclusive Yesterday clips
Yesterday star Himesh Patel on The Beatles, Ed Sheeran, and color-blind casting

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Written by Charles

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