Dustin Hoffman Making Directorial Debut With QUARTET Starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly

     September 12, 2011


Dustin Hoffman is looking to finally try his hand at directing, as the Academy Award-winning actor is set to make his feature directorial debut with Quartet. Based on the stage play of the same name, the film centers on a quartet of celebrated opera singers whose yearly plans to put on a concert in order to raise funds for their opera singers-only retirement home go awry when four of the finest singers in English operatic history living under one roof leads to trouble.

Hoffman has assembled a cast of British veterans that includes Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins, Sheridan Smith, and Michael Gambon. Production got underway today in and around Buckinghamshire and will last for nine weeks. Hit the jump to read the full press release.

dustin-hoffman-imageHere’s the full press release:

London, 12th September 2011… Dustin Hoffman has assembled a cast of Britain’s most virtuoso actors for his feature film directorial debut QUARTET, which starts principal photography today, shooting for nine weeks in and around Buckinghamshire.

BBC Films and DCM Productions present a Headline Pictures and Finola Dwyer Productions production in association with Decca and HanWay Films.

Based on Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name, QUARTET features six-time Oscar® nominee and two-time winner Maggie Smith (the Harry Potter series, Downton Abbey, Gosford Park), double Oscar® nominee and BAFTA winner Tom Courtenay (The Dresser, Doctor Zhivago, Billy Liar), BAFTA nominee Billy Connolly (Mrs. Brown), Oscar® nominee and BAFTA winner Pauline Collins (Shirley Valentine), Olivier Award-winning Sheridan Smith (Legally Blonde, The Musical) and four-time BAFTA winner Michael Gambon (the Harry Potter series, Gosford Park).

Lifelong friends Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Reggie (Tom Courtenay), together with former colleague Cissy (Pauline Collins), are residents of Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers. Every year on Giuseppe Verdi’s birthday, the residents unite to give a concert to raise funds for their home. But when Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), a former grande dame of the opera fallen on hard times, also Reggie’s ex-wife and the fourth and most celebrated member of their former quartet, moves into the home to everyone’s surprise, the plans for this year’s concert start to unravel. As old grudges threaten to undermine past glories and theatrical temperaments play havoc with the rehearsal schedule, it becomes apparent that having four of the finest singers in English operatic history under one roof offers no guarantee that the show will go on. QUARTET is a joyous and entertaining film about redefining old age and growing old with hope, demonstrating how art illuminates life and the human spirit remains undimmed even as the brightest stars start to fade.

First-time director Dustin Hoffman is one of the world’s most celebrated actors. He has received seven Oscar® nominations, winning two Best Actor Awards (for Rain Man and Kramer vs. Kramer), and ten BAFTA nominations as Best Actor, winning four awards, including Best Actor for both Tootsie and Midnight Cowboy and Most Promising Newcomer in 1969 for The Graduate. He will next star in Michael Mann and David Milch’s horseracing drama Luck for HBO. Hoffman also serves as a producer on the series.

Sir Ronald Harwood CBE is equally celebrated as author, playwright and screenwriter, with three Oscar® nominations, (winning Best Adapted Screenplay for The Pianist), and four BAFTA nominations, (winning Best Adapted Screenplay in 2008 for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).

Produced by the Oscar® and four-time BAFTA nominated Finola Dwyer (Finola Dwyer Productions) and Stewart Mackinnon (Headline Pictures, This Little Life), who together with his partner Mark Shivas (Truly Madly Deeply) originally developed the film with BBC Films, QUARTET reunites a number of the creative team from Dwyer’s previous production, the Oscar® nominated and BAFTA winning An Education, including Director of Photography John de Borman BSC (Made In Dagenham, Tsunami: The Aftermath); Production Designer Andrew McAlpine (Made In Dagenham, The Piano); Editor Barney Pilling (One Day, Never Let Me Go), Casting Director Lucy Bevan (One Day, The Duchess) and Costume Designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux (One Day, The Constant Gardener). Make-Up / Hair Designer is Daniel Phillips (The Queen, Tsunami: The Aftermath).

QUARTET is financed by BBC Films, DCM Productions and Decca. The Executive Producers are Jamie Laurenson (BBC Films), Dario Suter, Christoph Daniel and Marc Schmidheiny (all from DCM), Dickon Stainer (Decca), Xavier Marchand (Momentum) and Dustin Hoffman.

HanWay are handling international sales on the film and have already completed deals with Momentum for the UK, Transmission for Australia / NZ, Delphi for Germany, Lusomundo for Portugal, A Film for Benelux, Vertice for Spain, Odeon in Greece, Elite Film AG in Switzerland, MG Film in former Yugoslavia, Front Row in the Middle East, Ster-Kinekor in South Africa and Atom Cinema in Taiwan.

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