“My wife and my agent pushed me off the cliff,” Dustin Hoffman (Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award) says of directing his first pic, after 45 years in front of the camera. And he adds, “I hadn’t gotten any offers to direct in my entire career.”
Of course, that’s not quite true, as Hoffman himself reveals. He set out to direct “Straight Time” in 1978. “But I fired myself,” he recalls. “I was also starring, and in those days there was no playback. I had no objectivity whether I was any good or not. But it was a mistake. I should have directed it.”
Hoffman, known for having a few run-ins with helmers, says he learned a lot from many of those men. He’s especially grateful that his first two major films, “The Graduate” and “Midnight Cowboy,” were helmed by Mike Nichols and John Schlesinger, respectively. “And I thought that’s what movies were about!” he exclaims. “I soon learned very differently.”
The intense rehearsal and improvisation that marked those two film classics were a hallmark of his “Quartet,” about a group of retired opera singers.
As Hoffman often told his actors, “If something is in you, let it out.”
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