'Yesterday' star Himesh Patel says he's been ‘lucky’ to avoid 'stereotypical casting'

Danny Thompson
Contributor
Himesh Patel attends the UK film premiere of Yesterday on 18 June, 2019 in London, England. (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Yesterday star Himesh Patel says he is ‘lucky’ his acting work has not been ‘defined by ethnicity’.

The former Eastenders actor is about to hit the acting big time, starring in Danny Boyle blockbuster, Yesterday, which sees Patel play Jack, a man who wakes up after an accident to find he is the only person who remembers The Beatles and their music, and quickly becomes famous when he passes off the Fab Four’s hits as his own.

But, the role seems a million miles away from awkward teenager Tamwar Masood, who he played on Eastenders between 2007 and 2016. Talking to the Evening Standard, the 28-year-old actor, said: “I’m thrilled what I’ve done since [leaving Eastenders] hasn’t been defined by ethnicity.

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“But I’ve got friends who really struggled through that stereotypical casting, who say: ‘Oh, I’ve just gone off to play another doctor, or cab driver, or best friend — the sidekick. I wonder if it’s because when I left EastEnders I caught the beginning of the shift. Or maybe I’m just very lucky.”

Himesh Patel (left), Lily James and Danny Boyle (right) attending the Yesterday UK Premiere held in London, UK. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)

Asked about the influence of The Beatles on his upbringing in Cambridgeshire growing up, he said: “What we had on was BBC Asian Network and Bollywood sound-tracks - they were my reference points. But of course where I grew up I was one of two Indian guys in my school and I didn’t really have anyone else to share that with.

“When I tried to share that with them it was kind of batted away because it wasn’t really culturally significant - I was sometimes a bit lonely as a teenager, there was a cultural disconnect.”

Yesterday, which also stars Lily James, Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, will be released in the UK on 28 June.