“There is nothing that bonds a cast more than being in the back of a truck with live pigs,” says John Lloyd Young.
Young, who won a Tony for his performance of Frankie Valli on Broadway, plays the singer in the big screen adaptation of Jersey Boys. Teamed with Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda) Valli rose from the streets to the studio and with the addition of songwriter and keyboardist Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen), from clubs to concert halls as the Four Seasons, one of the biggest selling acts in rock history. Hits like Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You kept them at the top of the charts but ego, in-fighting and money troubles blew them apart.
Young, Lomenda and Piazza bonded on the third day of the shoot. “We were shooting a scene where we were in the middle of the desert and our car breaks down,” Young says. “We end up having to hitch a ride with a farmer and the back of the truck is filled with pigs. The three of us guys were actually in the back of this truck with a bunch of pigs, doing take after take, and every time the truck started it was like a lesson in pig execratory systems.
“It was a sequence that’s been cut from the movie,” he says, “but it proved to be a real bonding experience for us.”
Young, Lomenda and Bergen are all veterans of the stage show, which they say was a benefit when making the movie.
“Knowledge of that audience reaction is in our head and in every single thing we do as these characters on stage. You cannot forget that when you’re doing the same character onscreen. You know how the audience responds, and even though it is just crew guys, (director) Clint (Eastwood) and your fellow actors, you have those instincts in there. The audience is there with you.”
Frankie Valli was also with them. In fact, the singer has been a presence since before the show hit the stage.
“He showed up unannounced at a rehearsal before I had even completed my work building the character,” says Young of the Broadway show. “That was nerve wracking but by the time we got to the set I think he and I were both enjoying watching his life be immortalized by Clint Eastwood.”
“If you don’t write a good review for this I guarantee Frankie Valli will show up at your door,” chimes in Bergen. “He knows some people who know some people,” adds Young with a laugh.