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.]