While shooting Jersey Boys, the cast got to see what Eastwood was like as a director – and a dad when he cast his daughter Francesca Eastwood as a waitress.
"He would hug her and they would chitchat on set," says Katherine Narducci, who plays Frankie Valli's mother in the movie version of the hit Broadway musical about the legendary Four Seasons' rags-to-riches rise to fame.
Eastwood, 84, told PEOPLE that he enjoyed the father-daughter bonding time on set, where they discussed her scene – as well as what they were planning to have for dinner.
"It was nice having her there," Eastwood said at the June 9 special screening of the Warner Bros. film at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel. "I said to her, 'I don't have anything big, but I've got a part as a waitress.' "
Francesca, 20, his daughter with actress Frances Fisher, who has appeared in other movies such as Oh, You Pretty Things!, was up for the small role. So was Alexandra Ruddy, the daughter of the film's producer, Al Ruddy; she also plays a waitress in the film. "I had them in the saloon," he says. "It was great having them there."
Cast members said they enjoyed getting to know a side of Eastwood – who brought his other daughter Alison to the film's L.A. premiere on Thursday – that most people don't get to see. "He and his daughter were great together," says Mike Doyle, who plays the band's manager. "Clint is a family man and you saw his role as a family man with his daughter and with everyone on set, who he also treated like family. He is just so cool."
Adds Joseph Russo, who plays Joe Pesci: "He was like a grandpa. He would joke with you. As an actor, he's really on your side. He becomes a friend immediately. But there is a line of professionalism he expects, too, of course."
Jersey Boys opens in theaters on Friday.