In this episode of "Here, There, and Everywhere," Jack Lawless sits down with the incredibly talented actress, Ella Ballentine, for an enlightening conversation about the enduring influence of The Beatles. Acting for over 10 years, Ella has been the lead of several films including “the Black Conflux” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the A24 film, “the Monster”. She’s worked alongside of the notable actors such as Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Susana Sarandon, and more. She is also a winner of the Canadian Screen Award.
In this interview, Jack and Ella discuss their favorite Beatles songs, talk about why the Beatles are still relevant in the 21st century, and Ella chooses three Beatles songs that would be the best introductory songs to the band.
Led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the Beatles evolved from Lennon's previous group, the Quarrymen, and built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over three years from 1960, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. The core trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, together since 1958, went through a succession of drummers, including Pete Best, before asking Starr to join them in 1962. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their domestic success after signing to EMI Records and achieving their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962.
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970. Their solo records sometimes involved one or more of the others; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's participation, Harrison staged the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974, later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74, Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.
Two double-LP sets of the Beatles' greatest hits, compiled by Klein, 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, were released in 1973, at first under the Apple Records imprint. Commonly known as the "Red Album" and "Blue Album", respectively, each has earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the US and a Platinum certification in the UK. Between 1976 and 1982, EMI/Capitol released a wave of compilation albums without input from the ex-Beatles, starting with the double-disc compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music. The only one to feature previously unreleased material was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977); the first officially issued concert recordings by the group, it contained selections from two shows they played during their 1964 and 1965 US tours.
Accompanying the wave of Beatles nostalgia and persistent reunion rumours in the US during the 1970s, several entrepreneurs made public offers to the Beatles for a reunion concert.Promoter Bill Sargent first offered the Beatles $10 million for a reunion concert in 1974. He raised his offer to $30 million in January 1976 and then to $50 million the following month. On 24 April 1976, during a broadcast of Saturday Night Live, producer Lorne Michaels jokingly offered the Beatles $3,000 to reunite on the show. Lennon and McCartney were watching the live broadcast at Lennon's apartment at the Dakota in New York, which was within driving distance of the NBC studio where the show was being broadcast. The former bandmates briefly entertained the idea of going to the studio and surprising Michaels by accepting his offer, but decided not to.
In the 2015 feature film Standoff, Ballentine portrays one of the lead characters, Bird, a young girl who finds protection with an ex-soldier (played by Thomas Jane) from a hit-man (played by Laurence Fishburne). Although the movie received mixed reviews, Rene S. Garcia, Jr. of Workingauthor.com wrote "And let’s not forget Ella Ballentine. I typically have no faith in child actors, but Ella strikes the perfect tone with her burgeoning independence, but emotional and physical dependency." Eoin Friel from ActionElite felt that "Ella Ballentine almost steals the movie as Bird, the girl being pursued by Sade. The poor thing goes through an absolute nightmare and manages to never be the "annoying kid" in the film; she brings genuine heart to proceedings and is essential for Carter's redemption." In an interview on Collider, Jane stated "[Ella] was pretty wonderful. She was fun, too."
Ballentine's next big role cast her as co-lead in writer/director Bryan Bertino's horror film, The Monster (2016) with co-stars Zoe Kazan, and Scott Speedman. The Monster became an independent success and Ella received Fangoria magazine's 2017 Fangoria Chainsaw Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. "If horror movie performances were given Oscars, [Kazan] would be a shoo-in. Same with Ballentine. These two are so believable," wrote Staci Layne Wilson in Dread Central.Bloody Disgusting, an American horror genre website, called Ballentine "The Most Badass Horror Hero of 2016". According to critics, in the horror movie, The Monster "the spooky-good Ella Ballentine" came up as "a minor revelation." According to the Los Angeles Times'Justin Chang "Ballentine gives a fine, fierce performance as a child wise beyond her years and unafraid of confrontation", and Matt Donato from We Got This Covered writes "Ballentine rolls with the punches well for an actress her age, and this shouldn’t be understated".
In 2016 Ballentine began her role as Anne Shirley in the three-part TV movie adaptation of the classic Canadian novel, Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables (2016) was the first instalment, followed by The Good Stars (2017),then Fire & Dew (2017). The other main characters were portrayed by Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert and Sara Botsford as Marilla Cuthbert. Ballentine's performance again received critical success and landed her a Canadian Screen Award (2018). "Ballentine is charming as Anne," wrote Francesca Rudkin in the New Zealand Herald. Louise Keller in Urbancinefile states "[Ballentine] is outstanding. Wide-eyed and innocent, she proffers just the right amount of worldliness as the orphan who asks for just two things as she prays for the first time. That is a lovely scene." "I was absolutely delighted by actress Ella Ballentine’s portrayal of Anne Shirley. She was a worthy Anne." wrote Sarah M. Miduski. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sheen says "I adore [Ella]...She’s an extraordinary talent...She’s remarkable. And she’s very funny as well. We have great fun on the set and she’s got a great sense of humor. She’s a joy to work with."