Gere, Richard

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GERE, Richard

Nationality: American. Born: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 31 August 1949. Education: Attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, two years. Family: Married the model Cindy Crawford, 1991 (divorced). Career: Summer season at Provincetown Playhouse, Massachusetts, at age 19; acted with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, one season; musician and composer; actor in New York: in plays off and on Broadway; in Young Vic production of The Taming of the Shrew, London; 1975—film debut in Report to the Commissioner; 1980s—involved with environmental groups. Address: 26 East 10th Street, Penthouse, New York, New York 10003, U.S.A. Agent: Andrea Jaffe Inc., 9229 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 414, Los Angeles, CA 90069, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Report to the Commissioner (Operation Undercover) (Katselas) (as Billy); Strike Force (Shear—for TV)


Baby Blue Marine (Hancock) (as marine raider)


Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Richard Brooks) (as Tony Lopanto)


Days of Heaven (Malick) (as Bill); Bloodbrothers (Mulligan) (as Thomas Stony DeCoco)


Yanks (Schlesinger) (as Matt)


American Gigolo (Schrader) (as Julian Kaye)


Reporters (Depardon)


An Officer and a Gentleman (Hackford) (as Zack Mayo)


Breathless (McBride) (as Jesse Lujack); Beyond the Limit (Mackenzie) (as Dr. Eduardo Plarr)


The Cotton Club (Francis Ford Coppola) (as Dixie Dwyer); The Honorary Consul (Mackenzie)


King David (Beresford) (title role)


Power (Lumet) (as Pete St. John); No Mercy (Pearce) (as Eddie Jillette)


Miles from Home (Farm of the Year) (Sinese) (as Frank Roberts Jr.)


Internal Affairs (Figgis) (as Dennis Peck); Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall) (as Edward Lewis)


Rhapsody in August (Kurosawa) (as Clark)


Final Analysis (Joanou) (as Isaac Barr, + co-exec pr)


Sommersby (Amiel) (as Jack, + co-exec pr); Mr. Jones (Figgis) (title role, + co-exec pr); And the Band Played On (Spottiswoode—for TV) (as choreographer)


Intersection (Rydell) (as Vincent Eastman); Unzipped (as himself)


First Knight (Zucker) (as Lancelot)


Primal Fear (Hoblit) (as Martin Vail)


Red Corner (Avnet) (as Jack Moore); The Jackal (Caton-Jones) (as Declan Mulqueen)


Runaway Bride (Marshall) (as Homer Eisenhower 'Ike' Graham); Autumn in New York (Chen) (as Will); Dr. T. and the Women (Altman) (as Dr. T.)


By GERE: articles—

Interview with B. Riley, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1980.

Interview with Jonathan Cott, in Rolling Stone (New York), 25 April 1985.

"Richard Gere: Derrière le miroir," interview with H. Merrick, in Revue du Cinéma, June 1990.

"Top Gere," interview with Leslie Bennetts, in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1994.

"Shifting Geres," interview with L. Grobel, in Movieline (Escondido), November 1997.

On GERE: book—

Davis, Judith, Richard Gere: An Unauthorized Biography, New York, 1983.

Parker, John, Richard Gere: The Flesh & the Spirit, Headline Book Publishing, 1997.

On GERE: articles—

Alpert, H., "The Rise of Richard Gere," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), October 1979.

Current Biography 1980, New York, 1980.

"In Camera: Richard Gere," in Films and Filming (London), March 1980.

Harvey, S., "Star Quality, Star Power," in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1980.

Hibbin, S., "Richard Gere," in Films and Filming (London), February 1984.

Elia, M., "Gere," in Séquences (Montreal), May 1993.

Stars (Mariembourg), Autumn 1993.

Bennetts, L., "Top Gere," in Vanity Fair (New York), January 1994.

Radio Times (London), 4 March 1995.

Gross, M., "Even Richard Gere Gets Dumped," in Esquire (New York), July 1995.

Radio Times (London), 5 August 1995.

Johnson, H., "Be Holy Now," in Premier (Boulder), November 1996.

* * *

Whether raising consciousness about his Buddhist religion or treating an Academy Awards telecast as a political platform for his views, sincere Richard Gere is an adventurous soul open to a wide range of experiences. That is why it is so surprising that many of his screen performances suffer from a certain opaqueness, as if his emotions were something he chose to selectively instill in his work; such rationing does not culminate in memorable screen acting but apparently his followers felt capable of melting the beautiful control freak's reserve. Only since the liberating role of an utter rotter in Internal Affairs has Gere begun to flower as film actor rather than superstar.

From the outset, despite his Method Acting fireworks in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (where he is clearly outclassed histrionically by the less showy Tom Berenger), Gere became a star because of animal magnetism. Yet, judging from the evidence of his unconventional projects, Gere was never interested in pretty-boy immortality. Whether sublimating his love for Brooke Adams in order to secure a fortune in Days of Heaven or abnegating his family's traditions in Bloodbrothers, Gere registers as a passionate driving force in offbeat projects, but the audience is never sure exactly what he is driving at. After the dizzying career momentum of An Officer and a Gentleman and American Gigolo, the rebel continued to thumb his nose at what was expected of him. In Officer, he rises above the horrendously dated man's-man stereotypes and beyond Debra Winger's stridency. Having demonstrated the old-fashioned charisma this military soap hungered for, he then replaced John Travolta in the glistening tribute to eighties narcissism, American Gigolo, a preposterously arty film in which Gere's sangfroid complemented the movie's sleek superficial surfaces. He seemed to have found a specialty: arctic-blooded social misfits thawed out by man-hungry dames.

Having lulled his fan club into a false sense of security, however, the matinee idol risked his mainstream status by daring to appear ridiculous in a biblical epic, King David (just as he had earlier defied conventional wisdom by starring as a gay concentration camp victim in Broadway's Bent). Trashed by critics for his next few outings, Gere seemed to sleepwalk through such movies as The Cotton Club; in a way he was David Duchovny before there was a David Duchovny, but the Gere deep-freeze started turning people off. After a flawed but wrenchingly well-acted power-to-the people tract called Miles from Home, Gere found his footing again as a crooked boy in blue. Matured somewhat by a pepper-gray hair color in Internal Affairs, Gere revealed an icy core of self-interest that not only fit the bastard he was playing but also made the actor more seductive than ever.

After penetrating the shell of law-and-order infected by sociopathy, Gere was easy on the eyes in the blockbuster, Pretty Woman—ceding the film to Julia Roberts in a fluffy but retrogressive glamorization of streetwalkers. Risking his neck to reactivate the stalled HBO property And the Band Played On, Gere was also willing to lend his box-office clout to a gentle Kurosawa drama, Rhapsody in August. An actor with a conscience, Gere remained a force to be reckoned with as a leading man. He shone with undiminished star-power in both the faux-Hitchcock, Final Analysis, and the glossy male weepie, Intersection, a remake of a French film that lost something in translation. Sadly, while these vehicles benefited from his dashing movie star flair, the clumsy First Knight returned him to square one with his ludicrous Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Sometimes, Gere's time-travel could be rewarding, however. In a role that took full advantage of his nineties pliability, a less uptight Gere dazzled in Sommersby, the Civil War revamp of The Return of Martin Guerre. As a rootless opportunist willing to sacrifice his life to give a false identity credibility, Gere assumed the mantle of the idealized, quixotic lover, a screen image that one hopes to see him specialize in.

After this high-point as a romantic wayfarer, Gere seemed in danger of becoming a dilettante viewing his career as a means to support his political and spiritual causes. In the 90's, a regrettable lack of commitment surfaced in his genre choices. For every stylish Primal Fear, in which the Grey Fox matched wits with a sociopath, he would plunge half-heartedly into hawking conventional movie heroics. One can understand his attraction to the convoluted Chinese-baiting thriller Red Corner, because it provided a forum for addressing human rights issues. However, this improbable odyssey squeezed an Ugly American protagonist into an expose of Commie corruption. If this movie was well intentioned but compromised, another star vehicle pitted him against Bruce Willis in The Jackal, which was as close to sheer summer escapism as Gere has ventured in his career. Uncomfortable in the macho hero spotlight, Gere floundered in this testerone-drenched remake of Fred Zinneman's cerebral spine-tingler, Day of the Jackal. Scrambling to give two stars equal import, this thriller became a house divided against itself.

Fortunately Gere was able to bask in the refracted glory of his Pretty Woman co-star in the enchanting Runaway Bride. Once again, Roberts brought out the mischief in him and enabled Gere to relax onscreen. Of all Roberts' romantic comedy co-stars, Gere is the vis-àvis with whom she generates the most chemistry. Although another re-union would be welcome, in the meantime, this maturing matinee idol needs to find a balance between projects that appeal to his interests and traditional entertainments that could bolster his stardom. Sometimes, Gere's spirituality can register as mere placidity onscreen, and it would behoove him to rediscover the drive that led him to acting in the first place.

—Robert Pardi