IF – When Freya Tingley auditioned for the part of Frankie Valli’s daughter Francine in the movie Jersey Boys, she sent in her audition by tape. She got the role but didn’t meet the director- Clint Eastwood- until her first day on the set in Los Angeles.
So was the 19-year-old, Perth-born actress, who moved to the US with her mother Coppelia early last year, feeling a tad nervous or overawed in first meeting the legendary director?
Not a bit. “I was really excited,” she told IF on the line from her home in LA. “Clint directed a lot of my favourite films in the 1970s and 80s, the golden era of Hollywood.”
Eastwood famously works fast and gives little direction to his actors, which is precisely how Freya found him. “He’s a very calm person,” she says. “He encourages his actors to do what they think is right for their characters.”
John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony award for his performance as Valli, the Four Seasons frontman, in the Broadway musical, plays the character in the Warner Bros film. Freya says her scenes focussed on the difficult relationship Francine had with her often-absent father, which led her into a downward spiral.
She first went to the US in 2010, when she was 16, to find an agent (the Gersh Agency) and manager (Ken Jacobson). In Australia she appeared in Cloudstreet, the short film Beneath the Waves and Jon Hewitt’s thriller X.
Her US breakthrough was winning the role of Christina in the Netflix series Hemlock Grove, a gothic horror thriller which explores the strange happenings in a small Pennsylvania town. That meant six months living in Toronto, where the series was shot.
She made her US film debut this year in Swelter, writer-director Keith Parmer’s thriller about four violent guys who escape from prison and head for a small California town in search of their accomplice who fled with more than $10 million in cash.
The cast includes Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lennie James, Alfred Molina, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Grant Bowler and Josh Henderson. Freya plays the step-daughter of the local sheriff (Sandino) who can’t wait to leave town.
Freya played Wendy, a teenager based on the heroine Wendy Darling in the novel Peter Pan, in one episode of the second series of the US ABC network’s Once Upon a Time. She must have impressed the producers because Wendy is a recurring character in series three, now in production. The show airs here on 7TWO.