Dustin Hoffman likens Kennedy Center Honor to 'being at your own funeral'

Dec. 5, 2012 at 9:21 AM ET

Dustin Hoffman may be one of America's most celebrated actors, but he'd never gotten around to directing -- until now. With "Quartet," a romantic comedy that takes place in a retirement home for opera singers, the 75-year-old icon brought his years of experience to bear behind the camera as he told TODAY's Matt Lauer on Wednesday.

"I've never understood on movie sets, where there's a kind of natural behavior and then they yell 'Quiet! Action!' and take all of the life out of the room," he said. "The idea is to feel loose and to feel basically that you're not shooting, that you're rehearsing."

Early talk has suggested Hoffman could even get an Oscar nomination for his directing, but when asked what it would mean if he got one, he joked, "Nothing, unless I won. ... It's an honor to win." He paused, and chuckled. "Of course it would be (a big deal)."

And speaking of big deals, Hoffman talked about being a recent recipient of one of the Kennedy Center Honors. It was a great night, he told Lauer, but seeing the clip reel of his career was actually a little "depressing." 

"It feels like a eulogy," he said. "It's the next best thing to being alive at your own funeral. ... There's a sense of it being, 'Oh! That's just the first act.'"

"Quartet" opens in theaters on Dec. 26.

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