A Minute With: Dustin Hoffman on his directing debut

Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:04am EST
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman stepped behind the camera for his directing debut with the British film "Quartet" about a group of retired opera singers. It opens in U.S. theaters in Wednesday.

The film, which stars Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay, tells the story of former members of a famous quartet who live in a retirement home for musicians. Old rivalries come to the surface when the fourth member, played by actress Maggie Smith, moves in.

Hoffman, 75, spoke to Reuters about directing, opera and why it took him so long to venture behind the camera.

Q: You tried to make your directorial debut on the 1978 crime drama "Straight Time." What happened?

A: "I cast it, started shooting and was acting and directing. But we didn't have playback. I couldn't wait two days to see how I did, so I fired myself as a director and a friend of mine (Ulu Grosbard) took it over. It's one of the best films I've been in and one of the best acting jobs I've done, but (to fire myself from directing) was a mistake that I regret."

Q: What do you regret about it?

A: "I should have kept at it. I should have done it because I probably would have continued to direct. But it just kind of spooked me and I hung up the directing hat. I over-doubted myself for some reason. It took a long time for me to come to terms with. I still don't have an easy answer. One has their demons and I guess that was one of mine."

Q: And now you are a first-time director at the age of 75. What drew you to this project in particular?   Continued...

U.S. actor Dustin Hoffman reacts after being presented with a Donostia Award for lifetime achievement at the Kursaal Centre on the final night of the 60th San Sebastian Film Festival September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Vincent West