Dustin Hoffman’s British star-studded directorial debut begins filming

The Oscar-winning actor will direct a host of British veterans in Quartet

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Filming starts today on Hollywood legend Dustin Hoffman’s first foray into directing.

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Hoffman will take charge of fellow double-Oscar winner Maggie Smith, as well as Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and Michael Gambon, in comic drama Quartet, which is being shot on location in Buckinghamshire.

Connolly, Courtenay and Collins play Wilf, Reggie and Cissy, residents at a home for retired opera singers, whose plans for a fundraising concert 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.

Quartet is written by Ronald Harwood, who won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for The Pianist. 

It also stars Sheridan Smith, best known for Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and West End musical Legally Blonde. 

Quartet is expected to be released in 2012. 

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Meanwhile, Hoffman is not giving up acting for directing just yet. His next appearance will be in HBO’s horse racing drama series, Luck.