June 14, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With J. Robert Spencer!

June 14th, 2007

Bobby Spencer

Oh, what a year it’s been for Bobby Spencer! The birth of his son, Geddy; writing, directing, producing, and starring in his first feature film, “Farm Girl in New York”; and continuing to star as Nick Massi in the hottest show on Broadway! Prior to his May 9 matinee performance, Jersey Boys Blog had the marvelous opportunity to sit down and chat with Bobby about the big events in his life; his most memorable Jersey Boys’ experiences; his thoughts on playing Nick Massi on the West End; and many other surprises!

JBB: Hi Bobby, Great to see you! Last time we chatted was right after the Tonys. What’s been happening and how’s everything been going?

BS: Ahhh, nothing much…(laughs)

Well, my wife and I recently celebrated the birth of our son, Geddy Robert Douglas Spencer. He’s four months old now. It’s incredible!

JBB: Congratulations to you and Jenny-Lynn! How about your film, “Farm Girl in New York”?

BS: It’s been crazy! The film is about two guys who want to get laid, so they hold a fake audition in New York City to meet hot chicks. It’s like “Wedding Crashers” meets “Waiting for Guffman.” It’s rated PG-13—there’s no nudity or anything, just a shot of my butt in one scene.

JBB: What was your shooting schedule like?

BS: I would get on the set in the morning at 6 a.m., shoot till 6 p.m. and still do Jersey Boys at night, five days a week. We didn’t shoot on Wednesdays and Saturdays because those were two-show days. We wrapped right before Thanksgiving. It’s in post-production now.

We hired this great graphic design kid…well, I call him a kid ‘cause he’s younger than I am. (Bobby shows me this really amazing mock sketch.) He’s done caricatures of the characters in the film. The graphic representation is similar to what was done in “American Graffiti” or “Bad News Bears.”

JBB: Is there a release date for the film?

BS: We’re now looking for a distribution dealer. We’ll be sending the film off to festivals and my producing partner is going off to Cannes. I wish it were 100% completed, but we still need to do the sound mix, and this and that.

JBB: Since winning the Tony for Best Musical, have you had any career surprises that you weren’t expecting?

BS: The film has been an amazing experience, but the real surprise is still having people loving the show, coming back again and again, getting tickets months in advance. That’s the Wow! moment for me! We’ve been paid back in spades!

JBB: So many celebrities have come to see Jersey Boys since it opened. Is there any celebrity that stands out as one of the most memorable to you?

BS: For me, it was meeting Kurt Russell. When he and Goldie Hawn came backstage, I gave Goldie a kiss and told Kurt, ‘You’re the man!” He and Goldie had such an amazing energy. I grew up watching Kurt Russell and loved his work in films such as “Escape from New York” and “The Thing,”

JBB: Jersey Boys tours are popping up everywhere. Have fans at the stage door been talking to you about the tours?

BS: People sometimes ask us, ‘Hey, are you going to LA? Are you going to London?’

JBB: Any plans for you and the Jersey Boys to go elsewhere to perform?

BS: We’re staying right here on Broadway, but would I love to go to the West End? The four of us would love to perform on the West End. There’s Broadway; then there’s London. We’ll see what happens.

JBB: Speaking of tours, there are a lot of young actors who would love to play Nick Massi in one of the upcoming Jersey Boys’ tours. Do you have any advice for them?

BS: No advice to be Nick. You either are that role, or you’re not. Whatever the role-Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio, or Nick. Sure, I can sing like Frankie Valli, but I’m 6’1″, so that was not going to work. So, whatever role you’re up for, give it your best. If the chemistry is right and if the director thinks you’re the right one for the part–then do your best.

JBB: You’ve been playing the role of Nick Massi since 2004 at La Jolla Playhouse. What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before you played this role?

BS: What have I discovered about myself that I didn’t know before I played the role?? Not to follow Nick’s path. His path ended up being destructive on a lot of levels. And everyone, not just me, should learn from all their lessons.

Thank you so much to Bobby Spencer for this wonderful interview! All the best and continued success to him on “Farm Girl in New York,” Jersey Boys, and his future projects!


  1. Thanks for a great article on J. Robert Spencer. Looking forward to the release of “Farm Girl In New York.”
    Jerry B.

    Comment by Jerry B. — June 15, 2007 @ 10:16 am

  2. Congrats to Bobby on all his success and I hope to see more from him in the future. Go Bobby!

    Comment by Lauren — June 15, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

  3. Thanks for this interview. Many of us are curious and anxious to see your movie. I guess, you gotta get past the funding, the scheduling, the distribution dealers- How about a screening in NYC? You lay on the food, the booze, the full treatment. :)

    I had to laugh when you talked about the ‘kid’- aptly named because he’s younger. By the way, there are a fair amount of references to age when JB is reviewed. Frankly, I think the connections between ‘this music belonging to a generation’ and the show’s popularity are more illusion. (If it was music that a generation was buying tickets for, the juke box musicals would have been successful.)

    I believe the age range of audiences is rather consistent- with some trends, of course. The 30 somethings are in theaters less often because of ‘soccer practice’, not because this show has less appeal to that- or any, age group. (As tickets prices for this show have risen and student tickets are discontinued, disposable income is also a factor.) I would have- and will… love this story, this music and this cast at any age.

    But, I digress. Bobby, I like what you said about you’ve learned. There is a lesson in this show- (actually many); one of relevance to all people and ages. Basically, watch the path you’re taking; don’t go unconscious and end up somewhere you didn’t mean to. Some lessons of what not to do and many lessons of what works, I guess.

    In terms of people you’ve met, I’d have to agree that Kurt Russell would possibly be my favorite of the celebs mentioned since the show’s opening. What a career he has sustained. I recall when he started out doing Disney movies. (Speaking of celebs, I heard Frankie and his sons were at last Saturday’s matinee.)

    I love the smiling photo of you also. It is a small part of the proof that you can act, Bobby. For a guy who is one, big, huge smile waiting to happen every moment, I’m amazed how you master a character that has such serious, and even dark, aspects.

    Congratulations on the birth of your son, the movie, and a career that may have a stop-over in London. Exciting stuff ahead, no doubt. Happy Father’s Day!

    Comment by Audrey — June 15, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  4. Thanks for doing these updates, Susie. Each of these guys has given so much of themselves to their fans, and all are humble and grateful. It’s great each has had such a great and well-deserved ride over the past year–and better yet, that they’re all enjoying it!

    Bobby was so generous with his time at the Ben Folds concert in speaking with my friend Jessica and me. He spoke of his growing up in Texas and Jenny-Lynn’s coming from Oregon. And what Audrey says is very true—in person, Bobby is such an “up” person that mastering the Nick character is indeed an achievement.

    Thanks Susie and Bobby. Great article.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — June 15, 2007 @ 11:31 pm

  5. Bobby,

    You are an excellent performer and an all around nice person. You never fail to say hello to your fans, remember the grandaughter of this fan, make yourself available for pictures. Your great talent is only enhanced by your great personality.

    You also are very funny. I watched the Tony video and loved when you said, “And the winner is …this damn duct tape…

    Can’t wait to see you and the guys again in four weeks. IE

    Comment by irene eizen — June 16, 2007 @ 10:08 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment