Jersey Boys: A conversation with actors Erich Bergen and John Lloyd Young.


 Jersey Boys is a musical biography of the Four Seasons-the rise, the tough times and personal clashes, and the ultimate triumph of a group of friends whose music became symbolic of a generation.

Directed by Clint Eastwood


 A conversation with actors Erich Bergen (plays Bob Gaudio) & John Lloyd Young (plays Frankie Valli)


QUESTION:  So, John and Erich, this is really your first big studio movie.  What was the transition like from the show to the film?


One of the basic things an actor has to be aware of onstage is that the person in the back row, the farthest away, needs to enjoy the performance as much as the person in the front row.  So when you’re giving a performance, you must calibrate your performance to reach back there and also seem real to the person who’s the closest to you.  And that, sometimes, can take you out of the illusion in your mind that you are actually living through this life of this other person.  Whereas on camera, the camera picks up every thought that you have, so you can fully inhabit the character without any worry about having to project it in an unrealistic way.  You can just live and breathe, moment-to-moment, as that character.  For me, as an actor, that was deeply satisfying.


John had gone back into the show in between him doing the show on Broadway and then doing the film. I had had about almost four years off.  So when I came back into Jersey Boys land and doing the movie, it was like putting on an old pair of jeans.  It was like,“I’m older now and this feels a little bit different, but I know this.”

QUESTION:  Everyone wants to work with Clint Eastwood.  He’s one of those filmmakers that just actors love.  Because he’s also an actors’ director, being an actor himself.  What can you say about him now that you’ve worked with him?


I can say that Clint has a very enigmatic quality.  We think we know Clint, because we know his iconic film roles.  A lot of them are intimidating guys who you wouldn’t want to mess with.  Yet, I don’t think you can be as accomplished an artist as ClintEastwood is without having sensitivity and soul. If you look at ClintEastwood’s movies, even the most serious ones, there’s always some sort of a lighthearted joke in one of them that shows Clint’s true personality. I think that, from what I experienced on set —the ClintEastwood who I know is actually closer to the ClintEastwood in Bridges of Madison County:  a warm, sensitive man who cares deeply about people.  With us, we were new to filmmaking and—and clearly, probably visibly at certain points, a little bit scared.  He took care of us.  Now, having seen the movie, he got good performances out of us.  I think it’s because he made us so comfortable.  He is an actors’ director.  He also understands human psychology and he was a pretty good shrink.


I don’t know what everyone thinks of him butpeople have their own ideas about him.  I know that I thought going in that he was going to be some— I just didn’t know what to expect.  I thought he was going to be like a typical Hollywood director. I just didn’t know.  I guess I had this image.  But he was the nicest guy, is so collaborative, and is really just there to have a good time.   At the same time is extremely professional, and talk about on the clock! He gets things done so fast—and perfectly timed.  It was like a collaborative playing-in-the-sandbox type of vibe.  We were all in it together, and Clint’s guidance and Clint’s real direction came in giving us the confidence to do what it is that we do.  That’s where he, as a master director, really came through.  He just said, “Do what you do.  I promise you’re good enough.  Let me follow your first instincts.”  It was great.

QUESTION:  is it true that in the scene he was so up close that, at some point, he had to jump under the piano?


Yeah. There’s a scene where he did.  There was this scene in Bob Crewe’s apartment and that scene is really cut down in the film.


It was shot with steady cam.  We were improv-ing all over the room and—


It was like ten minutes long and they rolled the cameras for ten minutes.  Then he kept throwing the camera around, because there were all these interesting things happening all over the place.  One time he realized the camera was about to go past his head, because he doesn’t sit by themonitors.  He walks with the camera.  He’s not looking at the monitor.  He’s looking at what’s happening live.  He jumped underneath the piano and hid underneath the piano forthis whole song.


Yeah.  Otherwise he would’ve been in the shot (laughs).  So he had to duck and hide.


Jersey Boys is available on Blu-ray and DVD from 10th November

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