Actor Paul Bettany fired himself from his directorial debut when he realised he couldn't cope as filmmaker, writer, producer and star.

The Priest star initially planned to play a supporting character, opposite his real-life wife, Jennifer Connelly, in homeless drama Shelter, but he quickly realised he had taken on too much when pre-production began.

He explains, "As a producer, I had hired myself and then, as a writer/director, I fired myself from the picture much to everybody's surprise who had financed the film.

"I think it was a smart move in the maelstrom of trying to make your first film in just over 20 days. There's not a great deal of time to go to the toilet, let alone research and play a part, so I was very glad to opt out."

Bettany is terrifically proud of the film he made, which was inspired by a homeless couple he ran into on the streets of New York.

He tells Wenn, "There was this homeless couple who lived outside my building and after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, we were evacuated - very dramatic - and went to higher ground. I used to see them every day and say hello to them on the school run and when we got back, I never saw them again.

"I just started to write because I thought there was something good to focus a story about judgment on, because I didn't want to write a polemic about homelessness being bad because everyone knows that. But how we judge people I thought was really interesting. There's an almost aggressive response that they must've done something to deserve being there and that really intrigued me.

"We're all innocent and we're all worthy of forgiveness and we're all deserving of a home and that's really what the film is about for me."