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Richard Gere - Idol Chatter
Richard Gere - Idol Chatter

Cheers, Mr. Gere. At 57, you’re a Philadelphia-born, blue-collar boy who not only grew up to became one of the most enduring movie stars of the last 30 years,
Is it that long? Whoever would’ve thought?

but a guy who’s also became known as, well, let’s just say it: The 2nd most famous Buddhist in the world.
I’m assuming we’re both thinking of who the #1 is.

Yep, your “root guru” himself, the Dalai Lama.
(laughs) It’s been an incredible opportunity and I’m very humble about being able to serve. Of the many extraordinary things that have happened to me in this life I’d put that at the top.

I’m sure. But today is about those movies, the latest of which, The Hoax, is a comedy/drama/caper about the fake, Clifford Irving-authored, Howard Hughes ‘autobiography’ that became an early 70s mega-scandal. In it, Irving’s mistress giddily proclaims, “My greatest wish is to become an American movie star.” Could the young, unenlightened Richard Gere have related to that thought at

No. I was and still am looking for some way to be creative. That’s about it. And, back then, I was just a working actor, basically, who’d been offered these wonderful parts, but, beyond that, it didn’t mean much to me. In terms of, like, phenomenon. Then, riding in a cab in New York after getting back from Europe shooting, I think, Yanks, I looked up on 3rd Avenue and had three movies playing right next to each other—must have been Blood Brothers, Days of Heaven, and Looking for Mr. Goodbarand I thought, (with fear and awe) “Maybe this is a different universe for me now.” It was.

For sure: By 1980 you’d been thoroughly fetishized inand outof Armani suits in American Gigolo and become a major sex symbol.
Which didn’t have anything to do with me. Not even close. I mean, over the years I’ve had people say, “I went out and got the same car, haircut, glasses…” and I, sometimes, explain, “Actually that wasn’t a lifestyle I’m promoting.” The only time it was fun, probably, was making Gigolo: I learned how to wear clothes which I had no idea about before—I was just learning which, like, spoon you’re supposed to use.

And in the nick of time, because phenom-sized superstardom arrived with An Officer and a Gentlemen. Then……a notorious string of flops followed until the lollapalooza, 1990 comeback of Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman.
I’ve had, like six comebacks. (laughs) Yeah, at that point I figured I better start taking care of my career. And those two films started me on another few years of being, I call it, “A few movies ahead of the law.”

And, hey, you made gray hair hot long before Anderson Cooper.
Actually, [then Disney honcho] Jeff Katzenburg is an old friend and I knew he was thinking, “Maybe we should color your hair.” I remember him bringing it up once and I let it go. Then he brought it up again and I said, “Jeff—maybe it’s best you don’t bring this up again.” That was the end of that.

It’s 16 years later andwith apologizes to Libby Gelman Waxlerif you ask me, your best work has been done this very decade in films like Dr T. and the Women
I don’t know anyone who’s ever worked with Bob [Altman] and not come away thinking, “God—that’s why I wanted to do this job.”

and Unfaithful
Olivier Martinez said, “I look just like you, don’t I?” And he did—he looked kind of like the Days of Heaven me. It was freaky.

and Chicago
People kept telling me that no one was believing I’d actually done the tap dancing. I said, “Well, then who did it?” Some chorus boy even came up to me on the street and said, “I know you didn’t do it.”

and, now, The Hoax. So. Would you most like to be remembered as a great Buddhist or movie star?
I don’t care if I’m remembered at all.

Is that a Buddhist thing? ‘Cause you once said, “Acting’s just my day job, it’s not what I’m devoted to.”
Well, that’s true, but it’s also quite reductive. Because it’s a really good day job.

So do you want to do it forever?
There’s nothing forever. It doesn’t exist.

© 2015 Brantley Bardin. All Rights Reserved.

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