Dustin HoffmanNearly 30 years ago, Dustin Hoffman played a trouble-making actor who had to pretend to be a woman to get a job. Tootsie played on Hoffman's reputation as an extremely precise professional (AKA a pain in the butt), insisting to his agent that he set a new standard in playing real-life vegetables. My memory's a bit hazy on the details, but you get the idea. Hoffman has been a hero to many in the acting profession for insisting on such verisimilitude, for walking the extra mile in worn shoes to capture the peculiar gait of a particular character.

And now he'll get to tell other actors what to do. The Daily Mail reports that Hoffman is in advanced negotiations to direct Quartet, based on a stage play by Ronald Harwood (The Pianist). The comedy revolves around a trio of elderly opera singers, now living in a retirement home. Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, and Albert Finney are set to play the singers.

Now 72 years of age (?!), Hoffman has never officially directed before, though he intended to direct Straight Time in 1978. The burden of being both star and director proved to be more than he wanted to take on, so he brought on Ulu Grosbard to handle directing duties on short notice, and the result is one of Hoffman's best performances. By the way, rest assured that Quartet is not a prequel to Robert Altman's disastrous sci-fi drama Quintet, starring Paul Newman. We'll see Hoffman what does with opera singers; filming is scheduled to begin later this year.