Dustin Hoffman Interview on Directorial Debut in 'Quartet'

Hoffman discusses his directorial debut and what it was like to work with Maggie Smith.
8:25 | 02/01/13

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Transcript for Dustin Hoffman Interview on Directorial Debut in 'Quartet'
Why is mine goes really fast enough boom goes toward him marks and fifteen Manila February loans. You know. You haven't changed their songs that Italian did not say she still looks like younger -- I think in the case. -- How did you guys try passion you peace. Be kind to me we -- from people event. -- she's upset because he wasn't coming I'm not upset. This is first time we've seen the cavity -- -- company yes. And she's -- She killed. Times. Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers this is popcorn when we tell you what's going on at the movies and there is a kind of remarkable going on now court quartet. And Dustin Hoffman's name is associated with it but you know after what is -- six decades as an actor. He has decided at this point I'm going to direct. And so he had why well. -- and you're here. Well you are directed. Flavor of our shows on Broadway -- all over town years ago. Actually when I started studying acting at eighteen and nineteen other students would somehow. Reverse -- and I would give us some ideas are simple menu that's because and -- of it is because -- You should he -- director and you know started threatened cinco straight time but. I don't have an easy answer -- of such a complicated question. What was it about quartet that -- you said this'll this'll be. I've read it and I -- move by -- monologues of what she's so -- little emotional. So. It cut you and -- -- -- -- this is something about it and pastor read it she understood but you were just talking before. You nailed it much more economically -- I could you repeat we hope that the -- but I think it's a zoo is about -- but it's people who are in. A retirement home who are musicians -- precincts people who. Had this kind of major career and what you don't -- that I really like is concentrate on illness you know even those people there that are having a tough time. We're not sort of wallowing in that move in another move it would have been another movie completely. And -- are clearly you know well off they can come to this beautiful place that they're doing this with and yet. There and love the fact that it's the same perfection yes that big they altogether. And they have rivalries -- yes. And that's when I read it I said I just you know certain things in it that you wanted to do you know certain -- ones just intuitively. And I said -- the producer -- -- I -- I want real opera singers and and musicians in this movie I don't want actors pretending. And we had to -- Lucy Bevan was casting director films she's go over the country's -- over Britain. Testing. I mean you talked about using these people but. Maggie Smith Billy Connolly Pauline Collins Tom Courtney -- I think kids -- -- goodness thank. Think of -- -- -- -- yet but. Why and how do you decide on that quartet to be this court. What I -- I read it I was told Ron Harwood had had had written -- screenplay for the Dresser. Which had been a -- which starred Tom Courtney and Albert Finney. Both those guys we -- to do something else ago it can you write something so he wrote this for Courtney. And four Finney and affinia portion was -- and couldn't do it. So -- Yes I cast Billy Connolly. Maggie Smith was already with the project as she's known for -- -- writer for fifty years and so the movie came with Tom Courtney and Maggie Smith. And Pauline Collins I didn't know. And what directors failed to do -- understood it. Is good actors no good actors and they rarely say who do you think we'll be right in front useful for us. And I called Maggie Smith and -- did note because we're you know and with apologies appalling columns and I -- -- And then -- You are in Allentown yeah him and I went to see it and I saw -- -- -- Woody Allen movie was played a psychic. And she was wonderful about supporting part and I secular groups like your improvising and -- -- and it was possible as Woody Allen. And I -- how did you do that she plans to like an improvised and he said it would -- so whatever you want. Great to know that yet -- affect every walk who we don't really care about -- this. I was saying to you before an immediate with Maggie Smith who -- I think. But we know -- now this generation is really knows her especially from Downton -- Gosford Park and -- she. She's expert at that the put them just doing -- and she does a little of that but I think in your -- we see not only that we see. I think beauty I think. In age to it's really there and I would remember what she looked like that. You also do in this movie and when he give anything away but toward the end of the movie we get to see these musicians you talked about. As they looked when they were on stage in their youth which is would have gotten me going on the plane. Without even seeing. But how tough was that did you know Maggie Smith before did you feel she had a reputation that was intimidating. The word perfectionist is a dirty word in my craft or you know and and Michael Wallace. Such I always say what if it ever bigger brain surgery on the way into the surgery. That doctors -- ourselves and I just wanted an all on one night I'm not a professional. And wanted to the best when you can do and movies are designed just. You know you're always over schedule them. You don't have time they say to do your best work and she's relentless. And she will not leave until she feels -- you -- a system of -- over. I said to her. Maggie this thinly veiled. You're calling yourself. This character's name. And she is a diva. But you don't have to act -- -- up -- evil but he's also. Or worse and someone who was extraordinary. What they do -- it's funny how things -- them. Another connotation. And I said you know. If you can play is close to -- -- -- possible. That's what I think we should people doing world sevens here you know except. Connolly always -- he was 69. He had escaped any he has yeah. And I said if we can reflect what we feel like being this generation that we are Newton and having put most of our. Adult life into or worse than we will done a surface. And -- I was able to get the OK -- -- real. Opera singers and musicians -- tired. They came to the -- gave us something on an unexpected. No one had -- their phone for thirty years. And the fact that they had a job after years and years and years of feeling like they were you know in the -- -- They came in in -- seventies in the ratings in the ninety's and they got to work at six. And they work long hours -- seven and they'd still be there if if we were shooting they'd love. They had such a passion fruit for work it was it was currently. I grabbed his -- During the tape when he took up the intensity. -- -- -- there's nobody -- only if it's right for this thing.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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