Jersey Boys, Eastwood an odd match
It always seemed obvious that the stage show, Jersey Boys, would be turned into a movie and follow in the successful footsteps of Hairspray, Mamma Mia! and Dreamgirls.
Few would have imagined, though, that Dirty Harry would be the man in the director’s chair.
But Clint Eastwood was indeed the man behind the camera for the screen adaptation of the hit musical.
And for his young cast, working with the Hollywood legend was a dream come true.
Jersey Boys tells the story of the Four Seasons, one of the earliest incarnations of a boy band.
The four actors playing the Seasons – John Lloyd Young, who plays Frankie Valli, Vincent Piazza (Tommy DeVito), Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi) and Erich Bergen (Bob Gaudio) – had not made a major movie before signing on for Jersey Boys.
Piazza, a regular in the TV series, Boardwalk Empire, was the only one who had not been in the stage show itself.
“You fantasise about making a big Hollywood movie and yet, when it comes to most of the movies being made at the moment, it’s not like it used to be,” Bergen told City Press ahead of the film’s South African release on Friday.
“But with this, an Eastwood movie, it is something else. You drive to work, pull into the Warner Bros lot in Burbank [California] with its water towers, you see the plaque that hangs outside the sound stage with a list of all the movies that have been made there, back to the 30s, and then the big doors open up and it’s Mr Eastwood.” Young, who won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in 2006 for his portrayal of the group’s leader, agreed: “The man made Westerns. I never thought we’d be in a movie with Clint Eastwood. We’re the kind of guys who would have been the first to be killed in a Western.”
Some critics have said that Eastwood was an odd choice to bring the vibrant world of Jersey Boys to life.
“I’ve always thought there were certain subtleties that are lost on the stage,” said Young.
“The psychology of Frankie Valli is much more apparent on screen than it is on stage.”
He should know. Young has played the iconic voice behind hit songs like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like a Man since Jersey Boys opened on Broadway in 2005 and spawned versions all over the world – including in South Africa.
Their experiences on stage as part of the musical gave the actors an unexpected advantage over Eastwood, said Young.
“You know the places where the audience usually laughs or gasps or reacts in some way, so on camera, you kinda already know what you’re doing for the audience you can’t see,” he said.
For a review of Jersey Boys, see #Trending
John Lloyd Young and Vincent Piazza