With hit songs like "Sherry," "Rag Doll," "Dawn" and "Big
Girls Don't Cry," the rags-to-riches tale of the group's
struggle to overcome their humble beginnings, "Jersey Boys" won
four Tonys, including best musical, in 2006.
Eastwood, 84, knew that finding the right actors was the key to
transforming the hit juke-box musical, among the longest running
shows on Broadway, into the film that opens in U.S. theaters on
"Casting for me is one of the most important things next to the
writing," Eastwood, a double Oscar-winner for "Unforgiven" and
"Million Dollar Baby," told a news conference.
"If you cast it properly it takes place very easily, but if you
cast it improperly you are fighting an uphill battle."
Instead of opting for Hollywood names, Eastwood went back to the
stage to find his stars. John Lloyd Young recreates his
Tony-winning role as singer Frankie Valli, whose falsetto tenor
propelled the group to the big time.
Erich Bergen, as songwriter/keyboard player Bob Gaudio, who
composed many of the group's hits, and Michael Lomenda, as bass
guitarist Nick Massi, reprise their touring company roles.
Boardwalk Empire's Vincent Piazza, who plays hot-headed manager
and lead guitarist Tommy DeVito, knows the only way out of the
neighborhood is to join the Army, the mob or get famous. Piazza
is the only member of the group who was not in a stage
Christopher Walken, another Oscar-winner, plays mobster Gyp
DeCarlo, the group's godfather figure and mentor to Valli.
[to top of second column]
Eastwood admired the musical and just tried to "open it up,
give it a certain realism," in the film.
In an unusual twist, the actors speak directly to the camera,
giving the audience personal insights.
"It is my favorite thing about the film. It is so unexpected and it
can be a little bit disconcerting at first," said Bergen, who in one
scene is shown watching Eastwood in the 1960s TV show "Rawhide."
"But what I think it does is keep the audience completely engaged,"
he added. "It keeps the audience feeling like we are watching them.
It in a way it recreates the theatrical experience in the film."
Eastwood, a jazz buff who directed "Bird," a biographical film about
saxophonist Charlie Parker and produced a documentary about pianist
Dave Brubeck, had met Valli many years ago and was a fan of The Four
"I love doing films that have music and musicians, and in this case,
singers," said Eastwood. "I think 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You,' is
one of the real classic songs of that era and would have been a
classic song in the '40s, '50s or '30s, or any time."
(editing by Gunna Dickson)
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