In assembling the main cast for Warner Bros.' inspiring musical drama “Jersey Boys,” director Clint Eastwood wanted faces that would be new to moviegoers, and, in fact, the film marks the major feature debut of all four actors cast as the legendary group The Four Seasons at the center of the story. “We weren’t looking for big stars, we were looking for the best actors for each part, and I think we got them,” the director states. “They were all great.”
They are John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomenda and Erich Bergen.
The big-screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” the film tells the story of four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic rock group The Four Seasons. The story of their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the songs that influenced a generation, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” “Bye Bye Baby,” “Who Loves You,” and many more.
John Lloyd Young says he was thrilled to have the opportunity to return to his breakthrough stage role as Frankie Valli, this time onscreen. “It was such a joy to play this character and explore more facets of him in a different arena. I love that Frankie believes in himself and fights the only way he knows how to get himself out there, because his success is in no way a foregone conclusion, considering where and how he’s starting out. He’s not perfect and faces some rough consequences in both his personal life and his career, but it was rewarding to play him warts and all.
“It’s the culmination of everything I’ve wanted to do as an actor, and to do it with Clint Eastwood directing was a dream come true,” Young continues. “He’s so interesting to work with. He offered very pointed direction, and yet he also gave us a lot of creative freedom, so the combination of our input as actors and his as a director went beautifully together. Even though I’d played Frankie so many times on stage, this experience felt fresh and new. I think that speaks to the timelessness of the story and, of course, the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.”
Despite his vocal talents, Frankie might never have performed under anything brighter than a streetlight were it not for the drive of his friend Tommy DeVito, played by Vincent Piazza. “He’s one of those guys who will do whatever it takes to survive and make good,” Piazza says. “His attitude is if obstacles appear, you go around them or run them over, but you get through.”
Unfortunately, Tommy’s street-smart swagger is not enough to help him handle the pitfalls of fame and fortune, which has repercussions for everyone. “Tommy is responsible for some of the group’s early gains but also a lot of the big defeats,” Piazza admits. “He’s been managing the group from the start, but it reaches a point where he doesn’t have the skill set to deal with the club owners and record labels and others in that circle. He also has problems with gambling and whatnot, which makes things even worse. Yet, he never loses his confidence, and on some level you have to admire a guy like that. There’s something freeing about playing someone who’s always right. Even when Tommy’s wrong, it’s not his fault.”
The group’s growing rift with Tommy is felt most by Nick Massi, their vocal arranger and bass guitarist, who rooms with him on the road. Coming into the role of Nick, Michael Lomenda had some insight into his character’s frustration, having toured for months in the company of “Jersey Boys.” “That kind of existence can make your head spin off your shoulders if you don’t find a way to stay grounded,” he remarks. “I think these guys are launched into this situation before they have the skills to cope. So when you mix a scrapper like Tommy with someone like Nick, who doesn’t say a lot, there has to be a breaking point and that creates some fireworks. For Nick, it’s much more about a lack of respect.”
Frankie has the voice, Tommy has the ambition and Nick has the ear, but the formula for The Four Seasons is not complete until Bob Gaudio joins the group. Erich Bergen, who stars in the role, notes, “Bob is different from the other three guys because he not only came from a little bit higher-class background and not from the streets, but he also had a taste of success as the writer of the song ‘Who Wears Short Shorts.’ He brings in business savvy as much as he brings in the musicianship.”
Bob’s songwriting talents take the now complete Four Seasons to the next level. But his impact on the group’s dynamic goes much deeper. Bergen explains, “Early on, Bob has to sit back and let Tommy think he is still running the group, even though Bob is pretty much leading it from the moment he joins. I love that he’s smart enough to be the quiet leader…until it’s time to no longer be quiet. Together with Bob Crewe, he changes their sound and changes all their lives.”
To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas nationwide starting July 16, “Jersey Boys” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.