Dustin Hoffman will make his directorial debut with a film about retired opera singers. The Hollywood Reporter said yesterday that Hoffman is scheduled to begin shooting “Quartet” in London later this week.
The film, based on Ronald Harwood’s tender play, is funded by the BBC, and will star Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, two-time Academy Award winner Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon. Quite a cast!
Connolly, Courtenay and Collins play Wilf, Reggie and Cissy, residents at a home for retired opera singers, who unite to give a concert on the birthday of Giuseppe Verdi. Their plans are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of former grande dame Jean, played by Maggie Smith.
Not only is Jean the fourth – and most celebrated – member of their former quartet, she’s Reggie’s ex-wife. As old grudges resurface and artistic temperaments play havoc with the rehearsal schedule, it becomes clear that having four of the finest singers in English operatic history under one roof is no guarantee that the show will go on.
Hoffman intended to make his first bow as a director back in 1978 with the crime drama “Straight Time,” in which he also starred, but the challenges of shooting some of the film in and around California’s Folsom State Prison led him to hand off directing duties to Ulu Grosbard, the Onion’s AV Club reported. Hoffman still served as producer of that film.