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Paul McCartney Recruits Johnny Depp for ‘Early Days’ Video: Watch

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Paul McCartney

(MPL / Mary McCartney)

By Marissa G. Muller

Paul McCartney took a left-field approach when casting the video for “Early Days,” a remembrance song for John Lennon off his 2013 album New. 

Rather than find lookalikes for himself and Lennon, the former Beatle went with unknown actors playing aspiring musicians in 1950s South — and instead of putting Johnny Depp front and center, which could have overshadowed the video’s heartfelt story, McCartney relegated the actor to a peripheral role as one of his bandmates.

Macca’s unexpected choices work in the video’s favor. But the decision to briefly show Depp is also part of an inside joke between the pair, who’ve worked together before on Paul McCartney’s videos for “My Valentine” (2012) and “Queenie Eye” (2013). “It’s getting to be a running gag,” McCartney told Rolling Stone. “He’s like the Alfred Hitchcock of my videos. And he’s good!”

It wasn’t hard for Depp to get into character, especially considering he has a musical pastime  — as a guitarist, he contributed to Oasis‘ 1997 song “Fade In-Out” and was a member of the supergroup P, alongside Butthole Surfers’ singer Gibby Haynes, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea, and Sex Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones.

“He used to be a musician before he was an actor, you know,” McCartney explained. “One of his old bandmates actually organized getting me that cigar-box guitar that I played with Dave Grohl on ‘Cut Me Some Slack,’ that we ended up getting a GRAMMY for. So I knew he could play.”

But even if Depp didn’t have prior experience in a band, McCartney likely still would have cast him; he thinks that actors are naturally suited to try their hand at music, and vice-versa. “They’re similar gigs, really,” he added. “Ringo [Starr] used to know Peter Sellers very well, and Peter wanted to be a drummer – that was his secret closet ambition. You run into a lot of guys who play who are actors. There a bunch you can think of. Bruce Willis does it. Then there are people who do both, like Jared Leto.”

One of the only exceptions though is McCartney himself. “No, I don’t think [acting is] my thing,” he said. “I get self-conscious in front of a movie camera. Off-camera, I can impersonate, I can do this and that, and I’ll think, ‘I could be such a great actor.’ Then they say ‘Action!’ and turn the camera on, and I go uh-uh-uh-uh-uh…I just don’t think I’m a natural.”

Recently, McCartney was forced to reschedule a score of U.S. tour dates after an illness. Check out a list of his rescheduled tour dates below.

07/05 – Albany, NY @ Times Union Center
07/07 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Consol Energy Center
07/09 – Chicago, IL @ United Center
07/12 – Fargo, ND @ Fargodome
07/14 – Lincoln, NE @ Pinnacle Bank Arena
07/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
08/02 – Minneapolis, MN @ Target Field
08/05 – Missoula, MT @ Washington-Grizzly Stadium
08/07 – Salt Lake City, UT @ EnergySolutions Arena
08/10 – Los Angeles, CA @ Dodger Stadium
08/12 – Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Center
08/14 – San Francisco, A @ Candlestick Park
10/02 - Lubbock, TX @ United Spirit Arena
10/11 - New Orleans, LA @ The Smoothie King Center
10/13 - Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
10/15 - Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
10/16 - Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
10/25 - Jacksonville, FL @ Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
10/28 - Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center
10/30 – Greensboro, NC @ Greensboro Coliseum

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