Q&A: ‘Jersey Boys’ Star John Lloyd Young Talks Clint Eastwood, Martial Arts

Q&: 'Jersey Boys' Star John Lloyd
Alex Hoerner for Variety

John Lloyd Young skipped the audition process, traveling directly from Broadway stage to Hollywood screen as Frankie Valli in Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys.” The 38-year-old actor, who won a Tony in 2006 for his performance, holds a brown belt in kung fu, and counts sculpting (Eastwood has a mixed media piece in his office on the Warner Bros. lot) and learning Mandarin as his offscreen passions. The musical, due in theaters June 20, follows 1960s rock group the Four Seasons and Valli during their tumultuous rise to fame.

You’ve spent nearly 10 years on and off playing Valli. Are you tired of him? 

I really got to live with him and know him, and I’m thankful for that, but I think 1,400 performances is enough.

When did you first meet Valli? 

I was on a taped-out floor in a Broadway rehearsal studio in New York. I was terrified and hadn’t completed my character work yet, and he was right there watching me. I became a man in that moment.

How did Eastwood’s direction change your portrayal of Valli? 

I got to play him more intimately, more naturally than the behavior needed onstage. Clint was my tour guide to film acting; I’m a little punch-drunk on the process.

What does kung fu have to do with it?

Everyday on set I watched (the 1973 martial arts film) “Enter the Dragon” in my trailer. It always pumped me up.

[This post has been updated.]

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  1. Victoria Roberts says:

    I absolutely Loved this movie & the men who played the Four Seasons. My favorite was John Lloyd Young but for another reason than playing Frankie Valli. I would have flown to NY to see him on Broadway in Jersey Boys but after reading it appears he is no longer in that role. So sorry to hear. Any chance he will play in Atlanta anytime soon? Would love to know. My reason for loving John Young will remain my secret. All the guys that play the other 3 guys were excellent but my heart belongs to John L. Young. I wish him the best in life & in his career. He will go far is my wish. Clint Eastwood did a great job, as usual. I saw The Four Seasons in Chicago when I was a young girl in 1969-2nd row from the top at the Chicago Amphitheater. I thought I would fall out of my seat due to the pitch of the seats & since we were at the very top. A memory I will never forget. Thanks for the Wonderful Memory. I will try & follow Mr. Young’s career. Thanks to all for a Great Movie & fantastic music!

  2. Linda Roth says:

    Just saw the Movie “JERSEY BOYS” and was completely impressed. Frankie Valli is “my guy”, and my expectation of someone playing that part was somewhat weak. I have to say you blew me away, John….my emotions ran high throughout the movie due to your excellence at playing Frankie. I had been in a low place, and you brought me way up. I so strongly wanted to applaud each time a performance ended in the
    movie, but I managed to control myself respectfully! You, John, and your co-stars gave excellent performances…thank you so much for the great entertainment!! I also commend your performance in the play. Bless you!

  3. lynn williams says:

    Hi John I will never meet you unfortunately but I have seen you on stage in London and on film and both times you have touched my heart with your energy charisma talent and dare I say it cuteness, Thank you so much for making me sooooo happy and uplifted Best wishes to you and yours Lynn

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