McCartney 3,2,1

Documentary • For Paul McCartney • Directed by Zachary Heinzerling

Timeline This film has been released in 2021
Release date:
Jul 16, 2021
Filming date:
August 2020
Filming location:
Hamptons, USA

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McCartney 3,2,1” is a 2021 documentary miniseries starring Paul McCartney and producer Rick Rubin. The six-part series features the pair discussing Paul’s career, from The Beatles and Wings to his time as a solo artist. It was digitally released in the US by Hulu on July 16, 2021, and in UK / Europe by Disney+ on August 25, 2021.

I say I look back, and at the time, I was just working with this bloke called John. Now I look back and I was working with John Lennon.

Paul McCartney, quoted from “McCartney 3,2,1” documentary

From, May 17, 2021:


Series Will Premiere on Hulu Friday, July 16

Today, Hulu announced the Original documentary series McCartney 3,2,1.  The six-episode music series event features intimate and revealing examinations of musical history from two living legends, Paul McCartney and super producer Rick Rubin, and hails from Endeavor Content. The series is executive produced by McCartney, Rubin, Scott Rodger, Peter Berg, Matthew Goldberg, Brandon Carroll, Jeff Pollack, Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern with Leila Mattimore serving as co-executive producer. All six episodes of McCartney 3,2,1 premiere Friday, July 16, on Hulu.  

“Never before have fans had the opportunity to hear Paul McCartney share, in such expansive, celebratory detail, the experience of creating his life’s work – more than 50 years of culture-defining music,” said Craig Erwich, president, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment. “To be an observer as Paul and Rick Rubin deconstruct how some of the biggest hits in music history came to be is truly enlightening. It is an honor that Paul chose to return to Hulu to share this one-of-a-kind series.” 

In the series, Paul McCartney sits down for a rare in-depth one-on-one with legendary music producer Rick Rubin to discuss his groundbreaking work with The Beatles, the emblematic 1970s arena rock of Wings and his 50-plus years as a solo artist. In this six-episode series that explores music and creativity in a unique and revelatory manner, the documentary gives a front-row seat to Paul and Rick in an intimate conversation about the songwriting, influences, and personal relationships that informed the iconic songs that have served as the soundtracks of our lives.

Since writing his first song at the age of 14, Paul McCartney’s career has been impossibly prolific and singularly influential. In the 1960s, McCartney changed the world forever with The Beatles. He didn’t stop there and has continued to push boundaries as a solo artist, then with Wings, and also collaborating with numerous world-renowned artists. He has received 18 GRAMMYS® and in 1997 was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music. His most recent album, McCartney III was No. 1 in the U.K. Official Charts as well as No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Album Sales Chart upon release in December 2020. McCartney is a dedicated philanthropist, passionately advocating for many causes including animal rights and environmental issues. 

Rick Rubin continues to co-produce and host the podcast series “Broken Record” with Malcolm Gladwell. He has an active partnership with GQ around a series of deep conversations with the foremost personalities across the music world ranging from Pharrell Williams to Kendrick Lamar, each of which he hosts and creates editorial and video content around. He recently produced the Grammy®-winning record “The New Abnormal” with The Strokes to rave reviews.

McCartney 3,2,1 is the latest title to join Hulu’s burgeoning slate of documentary series and films that examine influential and significant figures in world history such as ‘Hillary,”I Am Greta’ and ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.’ 

McCartney 3,2,1 is directed by Emmy® Award-winning Zachary Heinzerling and executive produced by McCartney, Rubin, Scott Rodger, Peter Berg, Matthew Goldberg, Brandon Carroll, Jeff Pollack, Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern with Leila Mattimore serving as co-executive producer. Endeavor Content serves as the studio, producing alongside MPL Communications Inc., Shangri-La, Film 45, Kennedy Marshall and Diamond Docs.

From McCartney 3,2,1 | Hulu:

Episode 101 ‘These Things Bring You Together’

Paul McCartney shares stories from the early days, shedding new light on his relationships with John Lennon and George Harrison. Welcoming an outside musician into the studio impacts one of The Beatles’ most famous songs.

Episode 102 ‘The Notes That Like Each Other’

Paul McCartney talks about his unique approach to musical composition, influences from Bach to Fela Kuti and some of the innovations that made his music altogether unique.

Episode 103 ‘The People We Loved Were Loving Us!’

Paul McCartney pays tribute to some of the artists that influenced The Beatles. He discusses the band’s trip to India and the expansion of The Beatles’ music and consciousness.

Episode 104 ‘Like Professors In A Laboratory’

Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin discuss musical experimentation and The Beatles’ drive to break boundaries. The episode features segments on Ringo Starr and “fifth Beatle” producer George Martin.

Episode 105 ‘Couldn’t You Play It Straighter?’

Paul McCartney talks about finding his place in the band and the evolution of The Beatles’ sound and identity. This episode also focuses on a few of McCartney’s iconic contributions to the band.

Episode 106 ‘The Long And Winding Road’

Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin discuss McCartney’s songwriting evolution, his creative partnership with John Lennon, and his development as a solo artist.

From ‘McCartney 3, 2, 1’ Is Revelatory—Just Not in the Ways You’d Expected – The Ringer, July 16, 2021:

[…] Therein lay the challenge for the makers of McCartney 3, 2, 1: how to induce one of the most-interviewed men in the world (and, perhaps, in history) to say something he hasn’t said (or even thought) in more than half a century of talking about a band that last recorded before he turned 28. Eliciting something fresh seems to have been one of the producers’ primary concerns. […]

McCartney connoisseurs will recognize plenty of repeated tales in Hulu’s long and winding ode to McCartney’s musical genius […] But what the series lacks in previously unheard information about the Beatles’ lives, it more than makes up for in celebrating and documenting the minor miracles that occurred when they came together inside the studio. By centering the songs, McCartney 3, 2, 1 captures its subject’s wonder at the way in which he and his friends made music—which, unlike memory, doesn’t degrade or sound stale, even after 50-plus years. […]

McCartney 3, 2, 1 isn’t a standard documentary. It is, as Pollack puts it, “a very intimate discussion between two music greats.” The only talking heads here are McCartney and super-producer Rick Rubin, who leads McCartney on a mystery tour of his musical accomplishments, prompting Paul to chime in about how he or his Beatle bandmates wrote this or played that. Each episode consists of excerpts from an extended conversation between McCartney and Rubin, who filmed for two days at a hastily assembled soundstage near McCartney’s Hamptons home last August. In the course of the three-hour series (which was whittled down from 15 hours of footage), McCartney and Rubin revisit roughly three dozen songs from the first quarter century of the McCartney catalog, ranging from his earliest experiments to Beatles classics to a couple of cuts from McCartney II.

“We didn’t need to do another Beatles doc,” Pollack says. “We didn’t want to do a touring Beatlemania doc. We didn’t want to really explore the stories … that people knew so well.” Instead, he says, “We wanted to talk to the musician who happened to be a Beatle.” The pitch to Paul, who had some downtime during the pandemic (though he continued to record), was less about McCartney as a cultural icon than about his bona fides as a bloke who plays bass (and piano, guitar, and drums, among many other instruments). Pollack continues, “We felt that what might appeal to Paul was to really focus on his extraordinary musical chops. … He really hadn’t been approached about that sort of focus before. And I think it felt fresh to him.”

In the fifth episode, Rubin reads McCartney a quote from his phone that sums up the series’ thesis: “Paul is one of the most innovative bass players that ever played bass, and half of the stuff that’s going on now is directly ripped off from his Beatle period. He’s always been a bit coy about his bass playing, but he’s a great, great musician.” When Rubin reveals the quote came from Lennon, McCartney seems surprised and touched. “That’s John?” he asks. “All right! Come on, Johnny! That’s beautiful. I hadn’t heard that before.”

That could be because the ever-acerbic Lennon didn’t say it quite that way. The actual 1980 quote, as it appeared in Playboy, was, “Paul was one of the most innovative bass players ever. And half the stuff that is going on now is directly ripped off from his Beatles period. He is an egomaniac about everything else about himself, but his bass playing he was always a bit coy about.” (Playboy interviewer David Sheff’s book, All We Are Saying, restores an additional line: “He is a great musician who plays the bass like few other people could play it.”) Whether on purpose or unintentionally, Rubin omitted the part about Paul being an egomaniac, which would have sapped some of the sweetness from the scene. […]

Published by celebrity make-up artist Belinda Moss towards the end of September (then removed) – “Just another day in Sag Harbor with my Buddy Paul McCartney He is doing a documentary with the fabulous Rick Rubin”. The first photo which participated in the rumour mill, on the new album – in the end, this photo was not related to “McCartney III” but to another project.
From Hulu on Twitter : “Untold stories and unheard music. Journey back with Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin in #McCartney321, now streaming.” / Twitter
From Hulu on Twitter : “Untold stories and unheard music. Journey back with Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin in #McCartney321, now streaming.” / Twitter
From Hulu on Twitter : “Untold stories and unheard music. Journey back with Paul McCartney and Rick Rubin in #McCartney321, now streaming.” / Twitter

I was re-watching some of McCartney 3,2,1 last night and that is an incredible watch. I don’t think it’s possible to be a music fan and to not just love hearing that man talk about those songs and your infectious enthusiasm for unpacking them, and your curious questions he’s clearly responding to you… It’s just such a gift to the world that little six-part series… That’s me as a fan talking of course. What what did you get out of that experience, Rick?

It was like a dream. I can’t believe it. I’m glad it was filmed because I wouldn’t have believed that it happened. I would have thought that I dreamed it. As a lifelong Beatles fan, I love the music more than anything. They’re by far my favorite group and to hear Paul tell the stories of how things happened and to be able to hear those stems that hadn’t left Abbey Road before, it was just spine chilling. I couldn’t believe it. You know at first it was intimidating but as soon as the music started playing, the music just takes over and I could feel he loved it as much as I did, you know. He’s a fan of it as much as I am and that’s the way it works. It’s like the people who make these things were making it out of love. It’s all fandom whether you’re in the audience or whether you’re making it. You’re making this thing that you love and then you get to share it and once you’ve made it and now especially, in the Beatles case 50 years later, I don’t think that Paul has much opportunity… I don’t think he’s ever gone back and listened to individual stems before… Why would he? He’s making it again, he’s always moving forward, he’s always making new music. So it allowed him to experience, you know, when you hear one part… It could open a door in him that hasn’t been opened in 50 years and that’s really exciting and I think he was surprised by it. He seemed genuinely excited by what he was hearing and really having fun.

You said the word ‘intimidating’ a minute ago, why? Say more about that…

There are certain artists who are so great, and I think of Paul as one, I think of Neil as one, that… I remember the first time I got to see Paul McCartney playing live… It was in the stadium 70 or 80,000 people and he came out and he started, whatever the first song, it was a classic Beatles song, I can’t remember which one and immediately I started crying and I couldn’t believe that the person who made the music that I’ve been listening to since I was a tiny child, that that person walks the planet. How can the person who wrote and sang those songs that have been so ubiquitous in my life, how can he exist? Because in my world The Beatles are a myth, it’s mythology, it’s Mount Olympus. This was not even meeting them, this was just being one of 80,000 people hearing them sing, yeah it was completely overwhelming. So now years later, the initial feeling is always like “oh it’s that guy who did all those things” but then very quickly you realize, when I meet young artists, sometimes they treat me with some trepidation, and I was just like “fine we’re all just people, it’s all fine” and it turns into that fast but when you first meet someone like that, the legend looms large. So it looms large with Neil, it looms large with Paul and they’re a bunch of artists where it’s just like “I can’t believe it”.

I’m kind of thrilled to hear that, because you’ve worked with so many great artists and I guess at a certain level, whether it happens quickly or takes a while, you realize that it is people trying to do good work and you’re, as a producer, trying to help bring that out of them, but yeah I’m thrilled to hear that you had that with Paul and there’s some moments early on, in this series, where you’re sitting cross-legged on the ground, Paul is there with an acoustic guitar showing you how certain songs go, and I’m knowing that you are a lifelong Beatles fan, I was wondering if there was times during those moments in particular where you’re… It’s almost like the teacher/student kind of thing, he’s on a high, you’re on the low, were there moments where you were momentarily transported back to your childhood, where you were just studying those records and absorbing them into your life?

It was an amazing moment because nothing that you see was planned, nothing that happened was planned. So he volunteered to play something and that’s where the guitar was, so he went there and he sat down in the chair to play the guitar, because the guitar didn’t have the strap, so naturally you would sit. And I was standing and it felt awkward, I just felt awkward standing up with him sitting and playing so I moved some stuff around and sat on the floor because it just felt right for us to be closer, I didn’t want to be looking down on him, and it felt like a student watching the teacher and it wasn’t intentional, but clearly that’s what happened.

I also just loved how you were grilling him on the bass line, you isolated the bass and you’re like “dude explain this to me, I don’t understand, how did this come to be” and he was like “I don’t know, it’s just what felt right on the day”

Yeah because if you listen to the song without the bass line, it’s a very simple folk song. But the bass line makes it the Beatles something and one of the greatest songs ever recorded, and the bass is doing the work of a whole orchestra and I never heard anyone play bass like that before.

Yeah that series is a gift and I’m pleased that it had an effect on you I’m just curious, was that filmed all in one day and kind of cut into little bits and pieces?

Two days. I think there’s nine hours of of us talking.

Incredible, how do you think about those two days in hindsight?

It’s still hard for me to believe that it exists. Again I’m happy that there’s a record of it.

Rick Rubin – Interview with The Australian, January 13, 2023

Last updated on March 18, 2023


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Mary Harrington 3 years ago

Watching episodes July 17. So terrific! Have loved the Beatles since 1966. I was 13. My mom was a classical pianist. I couldn’t ever play well enough, but appreciated the skill. I am so glad I can hear Paul talk about how he and the lads would create their music and the influences that helped to create their songs. How fortunate they had mentoring by George Martin and their collaborations. Being able to bring in professional classical musicians to take his musical ideas and produce the music was magical. This project has added to my appreciation and understanding why Paul McCartney’s music will live on forever. I always knew he was a creative genius because my mom was one, but she never got to reach to the stars Thank you so much for putting this project together. and thank you for giving me a lifetime of joy with your music.

The PaulMcCartney Project 3 years ago

Thanks for those kind words, Mary!

Kelly Redding 2 years ago

Such an excellent production! I so loved hearing the inside stories of the songwriting, the studio sessions and the fresh genius that all the Beatles seemed to share. Would love to see more, but maybe more would still not be enough!

Howard 2 years ago

Was this elegant production shot originally on B&W FILM or DIGITAL?

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