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'Jersey Boys' movie cast recounts meeting Clint Eastwood for the first time

"Jersey Boys" is now playing.
"Jersey Boys" is now playing.
Warner Bros.

Director Clint Eastwood's film "Jersey Boys," hit theaters yesterday on June 20, 2014 and we had the opportunity to attend an intimate press conference with the cast. This film adaptation of the hit Broadway show is a real treat. You should definitely go see it. Vincent Piazza plays Tommy DeVito in the movie. Tony winner John Lloyd Young plays Frankie Valli. Erich Bergen plays Bob Gaudio and Michael Lomenda plays Nick Massi. Read on to see what the cast had to say about their first meeting with Clint Eastwood and the casting process.

Vincent, John Lloyd, Erich and Michael. You must have a story, each of you, about how you met Mr. Eastwood for the first time?

Michael Lomenda: Yeah, I was working on the first national tour of "Jersey Boys" and we were coming to the end of the tour. It was about a year and a half and it was towards the end of that run and about two weeks towards the end of it and Mr. Eastwood showed up in the lobby one day unannounced, and I didn’t believe it was true. And it wasn’t until I was in my second act break where I was sitting in my dressing room and in my underwear and I got a text from our swing who had taken a picture with Mr. Eastwood in the lobby and that sort of became true. Frankly, at the time I thought the movie had already been cast and as a Canadian with minimal film and TV experience it was a little bit off my radar. So I gladly met him afterwards and I didn’t expect to get a call about three weeks later to audition in New York.

So I flew down to New York that morning and it was pouring rain and I stood in Columbus Circle trying to get a cab for about 45 minutes in the pouring rain, soaked from head to toe. And arrived to my audition after a hundred and forty dollar cab ride. I gotta say, I was just thinking about this coming down here, that in that cab ride I was actually sitting there soaked thinking I should just get out of this cab ... this isn’t working out, I should just go. And something thankfully stopped me and said, no you should go, you should really go. And I went and got there, finally, after about being a half hour late and I looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom and said, you know what? You’ve got this. You’ve got 1200 performances under your belt and at least you should feel confident in that, and I did. I felt so grateful for it because a month after that I got a call. And I booked the film. And I officially met Mr. Eastwood after about a 6 hour costume fitting in LA and I just talked about the show and all the different wonderful aspects of it and also the fact that he had filmed part of “Unforgiven” on my uncle’s land ... so go figure. Really coming full circle.

Erich Bergen: I hadn’t done the show in about three or four years so when the movie came around it was set up with a different studio and a different director, and I auditioned for it and a week after my audition the casting director called my agent and said “He’s not really right for the role.” Of course, I played it for three years. So I’m glad that version didn’t happen, and that it ended up in the proper hands and the right writers and the right team for this. And I went in to the audition, it was one audition no callback, and you know, a month later I was at the gym on 74th Street and got the phone call and thought, “Okay, I worked out enough today” and I didn’t actually meet you [Clint] until we were in the rehearsal studio in LA and we were working on I think it was "Walk Like A Man."

The four of us were looking in the mirror, looking at ourselves trying to match everything up with Sergio Trujillo our choreographer. In the mirror, we see Clint walking behind us and we think “Should we stop? Should we say hello?” ... there was no formal meet and greet, it was work from the get-go. It was very casual and that was it. I don’t really remember much of this whole thing.

John Lloyd Young: I had been in the first original cast of "Jersey Boys" for the first two years and away from the show for several years and had been invited back to do the role again in 2012 or 2013 on Broadway. During that return to the stage, I had caught wind that Mr. Eastwood had been attached to the movie and had been watching the productions around the country, and had also caught wind that he would be interviewed by Darren Aronofsky at the Tribeca Film Festival on a Saturday afternoon. I was doing one show a day, not the matinees on a two show day, so I had that Saturday afternoon free and my manager and I went down and watched his interview with Darren Aronofsky and had a hunch that maybe he might be at the matinee the next day where I was performing.

In the wings, before I was about to start work, I had heard that there was a standing ovation in the audience because they had seen Clint Eastwood walk into the audience. And so I knew that he was going to be there the whole performance, and it was a joyful performance because I felt that no matter what would happen with the movie, how great was it to have somebody that has dominion in his world in Hollywood see me in the one thing in my life so far that I know I have dominion over, which was this show, doing this production on stage. And afterward, I met him onstage, said some hellos and that I enjoyed his interview with Darren Aronofsky. A month later, the next time I saw him was on set.

Vincent Piazza: For me, it was somewhat similar to Erich’s description of the dance studio. For a while, Mr. Eastwood was the man behind the curtain because I was cast on the project without meeting him. And I remember thirty, forty days into choreography and singing and all that other stuff, while we were in the room basically eight men were trying to teach me how to dance. And Mr. Eastwood walks in through the mirror and I turn and shake his hand. Two days later, we were shooting the film.

Clint Eastwood: I had been very lucky with all these actors and watching them perform individually in different productions and seeing them all together doing so great. At the time, you just go, okay this is as good as it’s going to get for me and if I can get a family together like how this one has been ... yery, very lucky. But a big tribute to the writing. The writer is the creative artist, and the director is the interpretive artist, and actors are interpretive, and you take zero and turn it into something. It’s always very interesting to me, I’ve never done it myself but I just critique it so for Mr. Brickman and Mr. Elice, I’m lucky to have the material.

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