Find out how a 13-year-old Phil Collins was cut from The Beatles’ A Hard Days Night film

14 September 2021, 11:35

Phil Collins in A Hard Day's Night
Phil Collins in A Hard Day's Night. Picture: Getty / United Artists

By Mayer Nissim

The Genesis star popped up as an extra at the The Scala Theatre at the birth of Beatlemania.

Phil Collins is best known these days as either the drummer/ frontman of prog rock icons Genesis, or as a solo star in his own right, with absolutely massive hits like 'In The Air Tonight', 'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)', 'Sussudio' and 'Another Day in Paradise'.

But did you know that before he kicked off his musical career, Phill Collins was a child actor who had played The Artful Dodger in a London production of Oliver?

And that among his roles was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-cameo in The Beatles’ first movie A Hard Day’s Night?

Read more: How The Beatles' George Harrison coined the word "grotty" and deconstructed influencer culture in 1964

Yes, Phil’s love of the Fab Four is well known (as is his later feud with Paul McCartney when he felt that Macca patronised him when they met face-to-face), and he's also part of their celluloid history.

Even if you've seen the movie a hundred times you'll probably never have seen him – and here's why.

Towards the end of the film comes a concert sequence of the band playing a string of classics to some screaming fans at The Scala Theatre in London, shot on March 31, 1964.

The songs are 'Tell Me Why', 'If I Fell', 'I Should Have Known Better' and 'She Loves You', and the crowd weren't actually a paying audience, but hired extras who – probably being Beatles fans – do a pretty convincing job as Beatlemaniacs.

'Eleanor Rigby' by The Beatles: The making of the dark pop classic

Phil was one of those extras in the crowd, and like many of us, he rewound and paused the film time and again without ever seeing his face.

That was until the producers made a 30th anniversary documentary You Can't Do That! The Making of A Hard Day's Night in 1996, which Collins came on board to narrate.

While they were putting together that film, producer Walter Shenson found an outtake from the concert segment of the band playing 'You Can't Do That', which is where we finally got a proper look at 13-year-old Phil.

Phil Collins finally spotted in A Hard Day's Night
Phil Collins finally spotted in A Hard Day's Night. Picture: United Artists

QUIZ: How well do you know Phil Collins' lyrics?

"They actually cut 'You Can't Do That', The Beatles' song, out of the movie," Phil told Conan O'Brien years later.

"They gave me this and I was freeze-framing it, and I suddenly saw someone that I recognised, and behind this person, was this little round-faced blonde-haired boy with a red tie with a diamond in the middle, and that was me!"

He added: "Thirty years after never seeing it, it was quite a shock after that many years of saying, yes, I knew I was in it, but now people know I'm not lying."

And it's only because of very good fortune that this outtake even exists.

Read more: Phil Collins recalls the time George Harrison played the biggest prank on him

Most of the outtakes of A Hard Day's Night and Help! were apparently destroyed by the time The Beatles broke up, and the only reason the 'You Can't Do That' segment still exists is because it aired on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Phil isn't the only person with a special cameo in A Hard Day's Night.

As well as an uncredited Kenneth Haigh and Julian Holloway in one of the best scenes, there was Goldfinger Bond girl Margaret Nolan at the Casino, Charlotte Rampling as a nightclub dancer and Lionel Blair as a TV choreographer.

Maybe most importantly, a young Pattie Boyd played a schoolgirl on the train. She met George Harrison on the set of the movie, the two hit it off, and would eventually be married from 1966 to 1977