‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week’ Filmmakers on Discovering Sigourney Weaver in Old Footage

TheWrap Screening Series: A very young “Alien” actress appears in the documentary, which chronicles The Beatles early touring years

Sigourney Weaver The Beatles Eight Days a Week
The Beatles Eight Days a Week

Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years” is based on the early part of the Fab Four’s career (1962-1966), when they first captured the world’s attention.

And along with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, it also features a now-familiar face — Sigourney Weaver.

At TheWrap’s Screening Series Thursday night, moderator Steve Pond asked the filmmakers how they spotted the “Alien” actress — who was then just a young Beatles fan — in the crowd at a Hollywood Bowl concert in 1964 or ’65.

The film’s editor Paul Crowder explained — and the story is even more bizarre than you’d imagine.

“We were going through the footage and there is a big party and Groucho Marx gets out of the car and they’re interviewing him and ask him if he’s coming to see the Beatles — Marx is like ‘nah, I’m here to drink,’” Crowder said. “So the cameraman pans around and there were two girls sitting in the car, and I’m like ‘God, that looks like Sigourney Weaver over there.

“Then cut to another news source and its all these girls behind a barrier [at the concert] … and there she is! It IS Sigourney Weaver. It was pretty amazing!” he marveled.

“Did she know that footage existed?” Pond asked.

“She had a done Jimmy Fallon’s show and someone pointed it out to her about a year before, but that’s not where we found it. Now she knows it exists,” Crowder said.

“The Beatles: Eight Days A Week” delves into the band’s inner workings — how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together — all the while, highlighting the Beatles’ unique musical gifts and remarkable, complementary personalities.

A White Horse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment production, the film focuses on the time period from the early Beatles’ journey in the days of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

The documentary also features the band’s American television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and Lennon’s controversial remark that the Beatles “are more popular than Jesus.”

“By the end, it became quite complicated. But at the beginning, things were really simple,” McCartney said.

Executive producer Nicholas Ferrall explained that the documentary originated with a 2012 call from Jeff Jones, the president of Apple Corps (the company that founded by The Beatles).

“They had started a research project in 2006 from a company called One Voice One World who had collected a ton of home videos from the 1964 tour and it just been kicking around for five to seven years at Apple,” he said. “They didn’t know what to do with it and decided maybe there is a story here.

“That’s what started it — and four years later we’re here,” Ferrall said. He then teamed up with producer Nigel Sinclair, who had just finished a George Harrison film with Martin Scorsese.

While some older viewers will have grown up with the Beatles — there is generation who didn’t — and writer Mark Monroe reveled in showing both of them a new side of the iconic musicians.

“I think every generation, every person, kind of discovers the Beatles themselves anew,” he said. “One of the beautiful things about the Beatles music is that when you discover it –whether its 1964 or 1984 or 2004 — it feels like you just got let in on a secret and as it evolves, you evolve.

“In that way, I do think that we are trying to consciously both please people who know the story inside out — who know more that we can ever put in 90 minutes — and also hopefully enthrall a young fanbase who is discovering them right now,” he said.

Watch “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” trailer below.