Frankie Valli Thinks Martin Scorsese Would Have Been a Better Director for ‘Jersey Boys’

The movie is rarely as good as the book. In the case of the film version of Jersey Boys (2014), the movie wasn’t as good as the Broadway musical. Most would agree Clint Eastwood’s screen treatment of the Frankie Valli and Four Seasons story didn’t come off. But it might have been different with Martin Scorsese directing.

When GK Films acquired the rights to the project in 2010, the rumor around Hollywood was that Scorsese was interested. In fact, Deadline reported that GK had an edge in the bidding because the production company was close to Scorsese, whom Valli admires. That rumor turned out to be true.

On the Talking Sopranos podcast, Valli looked back on the run-up to the Jersey Boys film production and spoke about how it went wrong. In short, he had issues with the way Eastwood approached it. And Valli thinks Scorsese could have done it better.

Frankie Valli said he didn’t like Clint Eastwood’s ‘Jersey Boys’ ‘at all’

The Four Seasons kneel down at the side of their tour bus and smile for the camera, circa 1964
Circa 1964: Four Season group portrait – L-R Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, Frankie Valli and Nick Massi | Gems/Redferns

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Valli has made numerous screen appearances over the years, and his biggest role came on The Sopranos in ’04-’06. He genuinely had the screen bug at the time, which is around when his partner Bob Gaudio (the Four Seasons’ primary songwriter) began developing the musical.

But Valli had different ideas for the film “I personally did not like the movie at all,” he said on Talking Sopranos. “I was at odds with [Eastwood]. And I have nothing against Clint as a director or as an actor. But I thought it was cast wrong.”

Valli wasn’t the only one who took issue with Eastwood’s casting, as the director didn’t bring in a movie star to play the lead role. (John Lloyd Young, who’d played Valli in the Broadway musical, reprised the role for the screen.) But Valli had more problems with the film.

“I thought, musically, he made promises to me and he made promises to Bob Gaudio,” Valli said. “Bob was supposed to be involved in the music. What they did with the music was an atrocity. Bob fixed it and [Eastwood] still wouldn’t use it.”

Valli saw the film more along the lines of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Mean Streets’

Tommy DeVito, Joe Pesci, Frankie Valli and Charlie Calello embrace one another and smile for the camera, circa 2006
Tommy DeVito, Joe Pesci, Frankie Valli and Charlie Calello | Bobby Bank/WireImage

Prior to Eastwood stepping in to direct Jersey Boys, Valli heard Scorsese’s ideas and loved where the New York-born director was taking it. “[Scorsese] had it,” Valli said on Talking Sopranos. He thought Scorsese’s past work was right in the project’s wheelhouse.

“What I would have liked to see that was different from the play, in a movie, I thought it was more in a place like Mean Streets, Goodfellas,” Valli continued. “Guys that happened to be singers that also screwed around a lot with breaking-and-entering and all kinds of bullsh*t.”

However, Gaudio disagreed with that treatment, and the dialog with Scorsese apparently ended after he heard the director’s approach to the material. But Valli (now 86) isn’t done with his idea yet.

“I’m working on something right now with that — a series, from my point of view,” Valli said on Talking Sopranos. “If it happens, that’s what it will be. The real guts of the way [the Four Seasons] grew up. A few of us might have went away for a long time or been in a lot of trouble if no success came.”