Why Clint Eastwood Was Inspired to Make a Movie Version of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ Lives

by Caitlin Berard
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In 1969, Clint Eastwood starred in his one and only musical, Paint Your Wagon, and had such a horrible time that he vowed then and there to never do a musical again. Over 40 years later, however, he was approached with the idea of a film version of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys following the lives and careers of the iconic pop group Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Having never seen the production, Clint Eastwood journeyed to Broadway and watched the musical three times. Despite his distaste for singing and dancing, the semi-biographical tale won him over. And in 2014, Clint Eastwood’s version of Jersey Boys was born, a far cry from his typical gritty Westerns.

So what made the Dirty Harry legend want to branch out into musicals again? The wild ride that was the rocky adolescence and subsequent rise to fame of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi, and Tommy DeVito, now known all over the world as The Four Seasons.

“I was mainly interested in how these four semi-delinquent juveniles who didn’t grow up under the best of circumstances made it big,” Eastwood explained in a 2014 interview with BBC. “They were actually working-class boys living on the periphery of the mob, pulling off petty crimes and even doing jail time.”

“Then the music set in and saved them,” he continued. “If it hadn’t, Frankie Valli himself says he would have ended up dead in the back of a mobster’s truck.”

Actor John Lloyd Young Explains Why ‘Jersey Boys’ and Clint Eastwood Are a Perfect Match

The idea of Clint Eastwood directing a musical might seem a little strange. To Jersey Boys star John Lloyd Young, the actor behind Frankie Valli, however, the Western icon was a perfect fit for the production.

“The thing is, this is a Clint Eastwood movie,” he explained. “It just happens to have music in it. It’s a dark, gritty film. But just like in his other movies, like Unforgiven, his wicked sense of humor pops through in the middle of high drama.”

“I also think that the story of Jersey Boys has themes he loves to explore,” Young continued. “It’s the story of common men who undergo a life-changing experience. And like in Mystic River, it’s about working-class boys who grow up together and then drift apart.”

John Lloyd Young clearly knows his Clint Eastwood films, and Eastwood is fond of him in return. Not only is Young the star of the film version of Jersey Boys but he also won a Tony Award for his role in the Broadway version.

And rather than seek out established Hollywood actors, Eastwood hired three of the four Broadway stars for his film. To the Man With No Name, star power was irrelevant. “I don’t want big stars,” he said. “I just want the best actors.”

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