Dustin Hoffman Finds His Groove By Directing "Quartet'' After His Two Oscars

LONG FEELING STYMIED BY HIS FAILURE TO DIRECT A FEATURE FILM, Dustin Hoffman's now elated because "Quartet", his directing debut starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly, playing opera singers in a retirement home in the English countryside, opens today.

How it happened: Cinematographer John de Borman, who worked with Hoffman on 2008's "Last Chance," passed him Ron Harwood's script for "Quartet" with a hunch that the story would spark something in the septuagenarian.
It did.

Hoffman's choice of words plings my strings. "The aging process in a human being compromises you: You're not as flexible as you used to be. you can't run as fast. You don't sing the same. Yet the thing that runs parallel to that is one's spirit. It can either shrink or widen. And that is an extraordinary thing to me."

Admitting he's a "popper-upper" to describe how his day starts, he follows that by making coffee, taking out the dogs, feeding his four new chickens. "What's unreal is that I've been able to do what I love for such a long period of time."

Such longevity is hard to come by -- "unless you're funny-looking to begin with. Then you've got a better shot. Physically, you have nowhere to go but up."