Himesh Patel is "proud" his 'Yesterday' character isn't defined by his ethnicity.

Himesh Patel

Himesh Patel

The 28-year-old actor plays singer/songwriter Jack Malik, the only person on the planet to be aware of The Beatles, in Danny Boyle's new movie and he's glad that his heritage wasn't a central part of his alter ego or the story.

In an interview with Marie Claire magazine, he said: "I've found the majority of the roles I've done haven't been defined by my ethnicity. I'm glad that with a film like 'Yesterday', the role wasn't defined that way. It demands very specific things, so I'm glad that I could personally bring that to the table. And that I just happened to be of Indian descent. I'm proud we didn't feel the need to address it in any way - it's not the story we are telling."

While the former 'EastEnders' star didn't feel "Intimidated" at his first leading film role, he was worried about having to sing on screen, even though he knew he had the musical talent.

He said: "I was ecstatic to get the part but didn't have time to let it intimidate me.

"A few days after the news, I sat down with Danny, and our composer Daniel [Pemberton] to go through which songs we were doing.

"[Singing is] something I've kept hidden as it were. I knew it was in my wheelhouse but I hadn't done it outside of my flat so it was nerve-wracking. It was pushing myself out of my comfort zone and that's what I liked about the role. It was nice to rise to the challenge."

Himesh "learned a lot" from his more experienced co-star, Lily James.

He said "She's an incredible actress. To work closely with someone like that on my first film was like, 'Oh OK, that's how you do it.' She was a real joy, I learned a lot."

'Yesterday' has been written by Richard Curtis and also stars pop superstar Ed Sheeran playing himself.