AN acting veteran from Bridgwater has told the Mercury about his experience working with Dustin Hoffman in a new film.
Charles Sibley, 80, stage name David Christian, was picked by Oscar-winner Hoffman to sing in Quartet, directed by the star himself.
Charles, from Woolavington, has been acting professionally since he was 16 and has starred in films such as Chocolat and The Duchess and television shows including Casualty, Skins and Nighty Night.
In his newest role, Charles plays a featured resident at a retirement home for opera singers alongside stars such as Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay.
He said: “My agent put me forward for the audition at Ealing Studios in London. A lot of other people were there. I originally auditioned for the role of a named character called Harry but I didn’t get the part.
"I sang The Impossible Dream on the audition tape and when Dustin heard it in Los Angeles he asked for me to be included singing in the chorus.”
Quartet has been adapted from Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name. The story concerns three ex-opera stars who live together in Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers. They throw a party to celebrate the birthday of Giuseppe Verdi every year but plans are thrown into chaos with the arrival of a former opera diva.
Charles added: “The singers are putting on a grand gala concert to save the home. Dustin told me that when he decided to do his film he also wanted ‘real’ people involved. He said he could get ten ‘actors’ from an agency but he wanted real people and that’s why he chose me.”
Charles shared an emotional moment with Hoffman on his last day of filming.
He said: “He asked to speak to me. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I thought I’d done something wrong but he said he was pleased with the work I’d done and that this wouldn’t be the last time I’d work with him.
“He called someone over to take a photograph of us and it was very emotional. He’s such a nice man. This film was one of the nicest films anyone could have been involved with and I put that down to his influence.”
Charles worked on the film for three months from September to November last year.
Quartet is showing in cinemas now.