NEW YORK - Amid the swirl of an early 1960s party scene in Clint Eastwood's latest, an adaptation of "Jersey Boys," the hit Broadway musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, a television screen flashes an unexpected face: young Clint, himself, in black-and-white.
The period-appropriate shot from the TV Western "Rawhide" - a wry Hitchcockian cameo - condenses in a moment the almost unfathomable breadth of Eastwood's career: fresh-faced cowboy to steadfast Oscar-winning director. Does it feel like a lifetime ago to Eastwood?
"Several lifetimes ago," chuckles the 84-year-old director. "Seeing myself in 1959 or '60 or '61 or whenever that episode was done, it was kind of like: Wow. I've traveled a long road since then."
Eastwood, a piano player and jazz fan, has long been known for his passion for music. He made a film about Charlie Parker ("Bird"), sang in "Paint Your Wagon" and "Gran Torino," produced a documentary on Thelonious Monk, and has composed most of his scores over the past decade.
But the falsetto-rich pop confections of Valli and the Four Seasons would seem a higher register than Eastwood's natural pitch.
Though the "Jersey Boys" sensation on Broadway immediately brought interest from Hollywood, earlier adaption attempts flat-lined before Eastwood revived it with Warner Bros.
"I couldn't understand quite why after nine years on Broadway, somebody didn't want to do it," says Eastwood.
Though Eastwood may seem like cinema's answer to a chunk of Mt. Rushmore, he has a warm presence and is quick to smile. He recently finished shooting the Navy SEAL drama "American Sniper," with Bradley Cooper, which he calls "a love story and a military story about a guy who's very talented at shooting people." It's two films in one year for Eastwood in what he notes is his 60th year in movies.