Clint Eastwood on 'Jersey Boys': 'I did like the Four Seasons a lot'

Clint Eastwood. (WENN.COM)

Clint Eastwood. (WENN.COM)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:14 PM ET

NEW YORK – Clint Eastwood may be the most laid-back guy in movies.

At 84, the legendary actor and director continues to distinguish himself by making it all look easy, taking the no muss/no fuss approach to filmmaking and finishing projects on time and on budget.

In the land of excess known as Hollywood, he really is a one-off.

Known as an action hero and a director of (mostly) drama, Eastwood's latest movie, Jersey Boys, looks like a change in direction. It's an energetic biopic of the famed Four Seasons singing group and it's based on the hit Broadway musical.

Why this project?

"Seemed like something to do," says Eastwood, laconic as always.

He hadn't seen the stage play when he agreed to have a look at a script for the film.

"They sent me a script and it was by a very good writer," says Eastwood, "but I found out later it wasn't the script of the play. I asked where I could find that …

“Only in Hollywood,” he drawls, "would somebody give you a script on something else when they have a script that's already a hit."

Intrigued by the story, Eastwood went out and saw the stage production in New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas. What he saw convinced him to go forward with the movie.

"I've done movies on country, jazz and the pop music of the '50s and '60s. I just immerse myself in it," says Eastwood. "I love music. I love doing films that are about musicians or singers."

As for the rock and roll that dominated the 1960s, "I was never a fan of the music of that particular era," says Eastwood. "'Cause I came along before all that.

"But I did like the Four Seasons a lot. Their music was energetic and great fun and superior for that time."

Jersey Boys is set mostly in the 1960s, and it concerns the complicated history of the guys in the singing group led by Frankie Valli's trademark falsetto voice. (The other members were Tommy DeVito, Nick Massi and Bob Gaudio; the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.)

The guys grew up in hardscrabble New Jersey, where some of the group members did time and local mobsters took a personal interest in their success.

It's the ultimate rags to riches story, with plenty of heartbreak along the way.

Eastwood says he could relate to the characters and even witnessed some of the bias against Italian-Americans that existed at the time the Four Seasons were coming up.

"I went to a school that was about half Italian-Americans. It was an interesting era in Oakland, California," says Eastwood of his home town, "so I thought I understood about the community."

In an aside, Eastwood adds that he went to look around New Jersey for himself while making the film, "And I saw that Tommy DeVito has a street named after him." Must be some cultural thing, jokes Eastwood, "Because there's no street named after me in Oakland."

That's about the only accolade he hasn't won. With four Academy Awards under his belt and some 250 other prizes and nominations, including an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in film producing, Eastwood is one of the most respected members of the industry.

He has what he calls a little 'Hitchcock moment' in Jersey Boys. The singers are in a hotel room watching television, and what flashes across the small screen is an episode of Rawhide, starring the young Clint Eastwood.

Indeed, he was building his career as the Four Seasons were building theirs.

"It was about the right era... the same time, around 1959 - 60, my first break after years of doing bit parts and unappealing roles," says Eastwood of the TV hit, Rawhide.

"It was a chance to gain a lot of experience and spend five or six years working with various directors before working with Sergio and Siegel and all those guys."

'Sergio and Siegel' — Sergio Leone and Don Siegel — is shorthand for Eastwood's early career, covering as it does Leone's so-called Spaghetti Westerns that made Eastwood famous (A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly), as well as the films with director Siegel (Coogan's Bluff, Two Mules For Sister Sara, The Beguiled, Dirty Harry and Escape From Alcatraz) that made Eastwood even more famous.

He's not resting on his laurels. Other men his age might be playing shuffleboard, but Eastwood is currently shooting American Sniper, the biopic of legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle. The films stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller.

As for making Jersey Boys, Eastwood says, "I play a little golf now and then, and you know that saying — 'I'd rather be lucky than good' — I've been very lucky knowing these actors and watching them perform."

It didn't hurt to have a great script, he adds, praising the film's writers.

"You just go, 'Okay, this is as good as it's going to get for me.' If you could just get it on every production … if I could get a family together like this one has been, it's just very, very lucky."

 

 

10 of Clint’s very best films

Everyone has their favourite Cline Eastwood movies. There's bound to be some disagreement about which movies are the best when you're talking about a career that spans 60 years, but here are 10 that stand the test of time.

UNFORGIVEN (1992)

One of the greats. Eastwood directs and stars as an old cowboy with a violent past who takes on one last job to find a killer. This feminist-flavoured Western won four Oscars. Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman also star.

GRAN TORINO (2008)

Eastwood stars as Walt Kowalski, a flinty, bigoted veteran of the Korean War, who can't stand his Asian neighbours — but eventually comes to their aid.  A story about cultural understanding.

A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)

Sergio Leone's film about rival families and a town divided by violence was the first of the trilogy that made Eastwood famous for his portrayal of the enigmatic gunman.

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)

The next instalment in the Spaghetti Western trilogy has our nameless gunslinger team up with another bounty hunter for an increase in violence and intrigue. With Lee Van Cleef.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966)

Three men — one a hired gun, one a killer and the last a wanted criminal — band together out of necessity to find a fortune in gold coins during the Civil War. At almost three hours long and with a cast that includes Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef, this one tops the list for many Eastwood fans.

DIRTY HARRY (1971)

In San Francisco, a cop breaks the rules to go after a serial killer. This is the gritty detective drama against which all others are still measured. So you've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971)

Eastwood's directorial debut is a thriller about a high-profile disc jockey and a female fan who stalks him; that's Jessica Walter as the crazy beeyotch killer — and now we're all hearing her wax sarcastic as the matriarch on TV's Archer. Awesome.

THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976)

Eastwood directed this Civil War-set Western about a Missouri farmer driven to revenge by the death of his family. The actor co-stars with Chief Dan George and Sondra Locke.

IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993)

A secret service agent, inconsolable over the death of John F. Kennedy and his own perceived failure to protect the President, goes up against a clever assassin who knows how to push our agent's buttons. This thriller co-stars John Malkovich and Rene Russo.

ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979)

Nobody could escape from infamous Alcatraz, but that didn't stop inmates from trying. This edge-of-your-seat prison-break thriller stars Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan and Fred Ward. Don Siegel directs.

 

 


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