Erich Bergen calls Eastwood “The Nicest Guy in the World”

By: Ricky Mora   June 20, 2014

The Jersey Boys phenomenon continues to grow moving from the stage onto the silver screen. In the same way Erich Bergen makes the jump from theatre to a Clint Eastwood film, Jersey Boys tells the story of four New Jersey guys who come together and form the famed 1960s band the Four Seasons. Erich Bergen plays Bob Gaudio, the songwriter for the Four Seasons. Bergen talks with us in a exclusive interview about his theatre past, playing Bob Gaudio, and working with Mr. Eastwood.

Q: You play “Bob” on the national tour of Jersey Boys and again in this film. As an actor what is it like playing different mediums but the same character?

I think as much as it was different, what I took away from it was how similar it was, because not only did we get to keep pretty much the same script as the stage show, it’s about ninety percent the same and it’s the same writers. They just adapted it for the screen, but Clint was very adamant that we keep our performances from the show. We’re having a new experience so new things are going to happen, and of course one of the four of us had not done the show. So he was bringing a new experience that affected all of us which was fantastic. He was adamant that he hired us for a reason and that’s because of the work we did on the show, and to change that now would be pointless.

Q: What was it like playing a character that actually exists and would see your performance of him?

Great question! Interesting thing, Frankie Valli is the only guy from this group that was publically known, people knew his name, people knew his voice, and I guess some people knew what he looked like, even though they didn’t know anything about him and his story. They at least knew who he was. The other guys in the group really were not known to the public until Jersey Boys came out. I didn’t have as much pressure on me as John Lloyd Young did playing someone who was so well known. I got to play someone I could sort of invent, a little bit. I had to respect the fact that he was a real person, and Bob and I happen to be really similar not just physically, but also in our nature. And I did, I made sure my performance was respectful of him and things he would do because I know that he is alive and well, and watching this thing, and also producer, but I did have a bit of a luxury being able to create a character from scratch without an audience’s expectation of what it should be.

Q: How was it working with the legendary actor/director Clint Eastwood? And what did you learn from him?

Well, I didn’t know what to expect. I never thought in my life I would be in a Clint Eastwood movie. I just didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t heard stories about him or anything like that. I had no clue. So, when I went in there I was just scared, because it was my first big Hollywood movie and it was Clint Eastwood. I didn’t know what it was going to be like to actually work with him. So, I was pleasantly relieved to find out he is the nicest guy in the world. He is extremely collaborative. He wants to know what the actors are feeling and what they’re thinking. He’s about getting the best moments on film. He’s always said, ‘If the best idea comes from the janitor, so be it.’ And that’s how he really feels, and everyone is following his leadership and his guidance. He has created an environment where everyone gets to bring in their best work and see what happens. He’s really into creating a collaborative environment where the best art can be made as well as keeping it fun.

Q: There is a very funny scene where you are alone in the hotel room during the Christmas party watching Clint Eastwood on the TV, was that your idea?

Yes, but I didn’t realize it at the time. When we were doing that scene what I was watching on the TV there was nothing there, and I was talking to Clint, and just as a joke, we should put in an episode of Rawhide, and he laughed and he walked away. I didn’t thing he was actually taking me serious, and I saw the final cut of the movie and it was in there.

Jersey Boys hits theaters June 20th, 2014.