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Home / Latest News / James Fox on portraying Paul McCartney on Broadway

James Fox on portraying Paul McCartney on Broadway

With his dark ‘mop-top’ hairdo and gold embossed red mandarin-collared jacket, James Fox certainly bares a passing resemblance to the young Paul McCartney.

But as he plays the famous Beatle in the new Broadway production Let It Be, the Cardiff-born performer admits that there’s one thing he hasn’t managed to nail – playing the guitar left-handed, something for which the iconic musician is renowned.

“I’ve managed to get every little detail, apart from the fact I’m right-handed,” says Fox, who played the role in the West End before transferring to New York for the US opening.

“So I brush my hair the opposite way (to McCartney) in the hope that it looks right!”

Like McCartney, Fox has to play a number of instruments – bass, guitar and piano – during the live performances.

“It would be difficult to find someone who can play bass, guitar and piano who is left-handed. However, the other guy who also plays Paul is right-handed but he taught himself to play using his left hand. Saying that, he’s been working as a McCartney tribute act for 20 years. I don’t think I’ll go down that road.”

Let It Be celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four who went on to dominate the world during the 60s.

Packed with 40 of The Beatles’ greatest hits, it charts their meteoric rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, through the heights of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces with live performances of early tracks including Twist And Shout, She Loves You, Drive My Car, Yesterday, Hey Jude, Come Together and, of course, Let It Be.

As the performances are so energetic, there are two rotating casts which work side by side so there’s time to rest.

“It’s a dream gig really,” admits Fox. “With most theatre shows you do eight performances a week. But with this we’re singing 40 songs a night so they want us to protect our voices.”

Fox, who once represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, landed the West End role a year ago.

“It was only ever meant to be a small run at the Prince of Wales Theatre but it did so well that they extended it and it moved to the Savoy Theatre in January.”

The 37-year-old, who has played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and The American in Chess, says that while he was aware of The Beatles while growing up, it was Billy Joel who inspired him to become a musician.

“I saw a Billy Joel concert on TV when I was seven and then started piano lessons. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’

“A lot of the other guys in the show are complete Beatles nuts and know everything about them. I’m not a fan to that extent but you can’t help but respect the Beatles’ music. It’s a musical Bible for everyone.

“I actually discovered Paul McCartney’s solo stuff first while I was growing up during the ’80s as I always gravitated towards singer-songwriters. It was after that that I listened to Wings and The Beatles.”

After landing the role of McCartney, Fox – who played his idol Billy Joel in the musical Movin’ Out on Broadway – spent two months in America’s Nevada Desert preparing for the show.

“It was like a Beatles bootcamp,” he laughs. “We would watch clips of the Beatles performing and try to capture every mannerism. You can only look so much like Paul McCartney by wearing the right clothes and wig but you have to try and get an essence of the character.”

Fox is in Broadway for another few weeks before returning to the West End run of Let It Be. His contract expires in October and while he has no plans for after that time he says he would like to concentrate on his own music in the near future.

But in the meantime, he’s giving his role as Macca his all – and admits he wouldn’t know how to react if he knew the legend was sitting in the audience watching him perform.

“I’m not aware that he’s seen the show but you never know. Billy Joel was there when I played him a couple of times in America which really freaked me out. If I saw Paul McCartney in the front know I wouldn’t know what to do. I would probably hand him the mic and ask him to do it,” he laughs.

For full details of Let It Be, visit

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