George Harrison and the rest of The Beatles took their first foray into acting in the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night. They went on to act in several different films as a band. Harrison said he enjoyed working as an actor, but he didn’t pursue the craft very far after the band’s break up. The director, Richard Lester, said that of all the Beatles, Harrison was the most likely to succeed in a career in acting. When speaking with director Steven Soderbergh, Lester said that Harrison was the best actor in the band.
George Harrison said he enjoyed being an actor
While filming the second Beatles film, Help! Harrison spoke about trying to fit filming two movies into one year.
“We’re trying to,” Harrison said, per the book George Harrison on George Harrison. “I hope so because we enjoy it so much more than anything else.”
He said that he enjoyed making movies more than he liked touring.
“Yeah, it’s great,” he said. “And when the film’s finished you get more satisfaction from it. You feel as though you’ve done something worthwhile, more so than a tour.”
The film’s director thought George Harrison was the best actor in the band
Lester directed The Beatles more than once, so he had a good sense of their talents onscreen. When Soderbergh said Harrison was “the best actor of the four of them by far,” Lester agreed. He thought this would be obvious, even to people who hadn’t seen the movies.
“I don’t think that there’s any question either, but I’m sure if you went around and asked people who saw the films that they would feel that necessarily,” Lester said in an interview for The Guardian in 1999.
He shared why he thought Harrison was much better as an actor than the rest of the band.
“Ringo, because his was the showy part, he was always the odd one out, so he was given characteristics that were more sympathetic,” Lester explained. “John, I don’t think was interested and didn’t bother. Paul was too interested and tried too hard and George was always the one that was forgotten. So he just did it and got on with it.”
He went on to appear on film again
After The Beatles broke up, Harrison involved himself with the film industry once again when he founded HandMade films. He started the company when his friend Eric Idle came to him to ask for help funding Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
“Well, I’m what they call the executive producer,” Harrison told Rolling Stone in 1979. “What happened was that I helped to raise the money for them in order to make the film when the previous backer pulled out. As I’m a Monty Python fan, I wanted to see the movie – I like to go and have a laugh too – and a friend suggested that I try and raise the money. So we just got a loan from a bank. It’s a risk I suppose.”
Through HandMade, Harrison appeared onscreen again, though only in minor roles. He appeared briefly in Life of Brian and later played a nightclub singer in Shanghai Surprise.