Frankie Valli, 71, is back on the tube as Mob captain Rusty Millio on The Sopranos, which returned to HBO on March 12. The singer, who crooned "Walk Like a Man" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" as frontman for the smash '60s pop group the Four Seasons (the subject of the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys), talked to PEOPLE about life as a TV star.
ARE YOU MORE RECOGNIZED FROM THE SHOW OR FROM YOUR MUSIC?
As both. I just took a walk in New York City. And it was really terrific. I must have been stopped six or seven times. People wanted to talk about The Sopranos, my play (Jersey Boys), the music business. The whole spectrum.
WHAT'S BEEN THE HIGH POINT OF BEING ON THE SOPRANOS?
It's all been a highlight for me, the whole thing. I just love it. It's always challenging, and it is so different. I'm glad I'm not playing an overly violent character. I don't go around killing everybody, though I may have been responsible for a hit or two. I think [Sopranos creator] David [Chase] kept in mind that my audience might not like it. I don't like to watch myself. I'm very critical.
HOW DID YOU REACT TO TONY SOPRANO GETTING SHOT IN THIS SEASON'S OPENER?
I was shocked. Nobody knew. When you do that show, they don't let anybody know what's going to happen. It's all very secretive.
WHAT'S IT LIKE PLAYING A MOBSTER?
It's not hard to play if that's what you come from. I came from Newark, N.J., where the show originates out of. I knew plenty of guys like this when I was coming up. How could I not? They owned all the clubs we worked in.