Richard Gere

Recent Role:

Star on Movie 43

Born:

8/31/1949, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)

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  • Credits
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  • Biography
  • Born August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Richard remembers his childhood in upstate New York as a time spent immersed in music; his whole family was musical, and he became proficient on the piano, guitar, and trumpet, as well as composing music for school theater productions. He also excelled in gymnastics, a discipline that, in his eyes, has much in common with acting. "There is an emotional congruency I have with gymnastics," Cosmopolitan contributor Kevin Sessums quoted the actor as saying. "There's an enormous amount of rehearsal—physical, mental—and then there is 'your moment.' Acting in film is very much the same thing." Following his graduation from high school, Gere enrolled in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where his selection of philosophy as a major indicated his developing interest in Eastern thought and religion. After two years of study, he dropped out of college and drifted out to Cape Cod, where he landed a job as a member of the Provincetown Playhouse. In that venue, he played the leads in The Great God Brown, Camino Real, The Collection, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and other dramas. When the season ended in Provincetown, he went to Seattle for a brief association with the Seattle Repertory Theater. Returning to the East, he temporarily abandoned his dramatic ambitions and joined a musician's commune in rural Vermont, but before long he had moved to New York City and renewed his commitment to becoming an actor. Gere's first significant onstage triumphs came after a move to London in the early 1970s. There he was favorably reviewed in productions that varied from such classics as The Taming of the Shrew to more modern material like the 1950s nostalgia musical Grease. In the mid-1970s, he returned to New York to continue his portrayal of street punk Danny Zuko in the Broadway production of Grease. He followed up with a commanding performance in Sam Shepard's one-act Killer's Head, which required him to deliver a play-length monologue while blindfolded and strapped into an electric chair. He was equally successful in the British sex farce Habeas Corpus and in productions of Shakespeare. Not content to rest on the laurels he was rapidly accumulating, Gere also honed his craft through drama studies with Wynn Handman, director of the American Place Theater. Even as he triumphed in New York City, Gere was becoming disenchanted with the theater scene there. He told William P. Luce of The New York Times that he believed "the theater is not in a healthy state. A lot of what theater is doing is what it has been doing for centuries—dealing with a logical story, showing feelings on the stage, presenting the well-made play. The movies do that better now." In keeping with those thoughts, he began to look to Hollywood for work. In 1975, Gere landed his first film role, that of a two-bit pimp in Report to the Commissioner. Though the part was small, his performance was good enough to win him another film role, as a psychopathic, shell-shocked soldier in the World War II drama Baby Blue Marine. Gere first grabbed national attention for his explosive portrayal of Italian stud Tony Lopanto in his third big-screen project, the film version of Judith Rossner's novel Looking for Mr. Goodbar, which starred Diane Keaton as the sex-obsessed schoolteacher Terry Dunn. Cruising the singles bars in search of the ultimate pick-up, Dunn gets more than she bargains for in Lopanto, who proves to be her final liaison. Gere was praised by many reviewers for his electric performance as the unpredictable and sadistic Lopanto, and thereafter he was swamped with offers to play similar types. Fearing that he would become typecast, Gere opted instead for the role of a sensitive, inarticulate adolescent in the film Bloodbrothers, a tale of the tensions within a working class Italian family. Yanks, a 1979 film about U.S. soldiers stationed in England, provided him with another more likeable character to play—that of Matt, the mess sergeant who is decent enough to wonder if he should consummate his affair with a virginal English girl just before shipping out for D-Day. Though carefully crafted and blessed with a star-studded cast including Vanessa Redgrave, Yanks failed to impress critics or the moviegoing public. In 1980, Gere jumped to star status with the release of American Gigolo, Paul Schrader's highly stylized chronicle of the life of Julian Kay, a male prostitute on call for wealthy female clients. Though the ending hinted at spiritual redemption for Kay, the film primarily showed the hollowness of his life. Dark and ambiguous in tone, American Gigolo nevertheless made Gere a true matinee idol. » Audiences saw him impeccably dressed, surrounded by expensive possessions, playing a master of lovemaking technique. In no time at all he was "the fantasy object of women everywhere," according to Us interviewer David Rensin—ironically enough, as both Gere and Schrader felt that there were strong homoerotic overtones to the film. Gere's nude scenes provoked controversy and excitement, and as he commented to Sessums in Cosmopolitan, "I had no qualms about showing my body... I think America is weird about this. In Europe—where my sensibilities lie anyway—this is pretty parochial stuff." Other actors might have worked hard to preserve the glamorous movie-star image that American Gigolo had created, but Gere took the daring step of returning to New York City theater just as the film was opening to play a gay Holocaust victim in Martin Sherman's drama Bent. Struggling to survive in a concentration camp, Gere's character masquerades as a Jew in order to hide his homosexuality. At the climax of the play, he and another actor were required to face the audience and explicitly fantasize about oral sex with each other. Critics were impressed with Gere's handling of this difficult role, which proved to be so emotionally draining for him that his hair turned gray during the play's run. His willingness to take on the part of a gay character fueled persistent rumors that he was in fact gay—something Gere has refused to confirm or deny. "It doesn't matter if you're straight or gay," he declared in Vanity Fair. "Cosmically, there's nothing wrong with being heterosexual, homosexual, or omnisexual—with being anything, as long as you don't hurt anybody, yourself included. The accusation is meaningless, and whether it's true or false is no one's business. I know who I am; what difference does it make what anyone thinks? …If I were a leopard, and someone came up and started screaming, 'You're a cow!'—is a leopard going to be uptight about this? He knows he's a leopard." Gere's status as a heterosexual heartthrob was bolstered with his next film, An Officer and a Gentleman. It teamed the actor with Debra Winger in a crowd-pleasing romance that highlighted the relations between local girls and the men at the military academy in their town. An Officer and a Gentleman was a box-office smash, but it was to be the last such film Gere would be associated with for quite some time. Throughout the 1980s, he selected a string of scripts that failed to excite either audiences or film critics. Most, such as the biblical epic King David (1985), had strong personal meaning for him. By the time he starred in Francis Ford Coppola's $50 million musical flop The Cotton Club (1984), Gere was questioning whether or not to continue acting. Deciding to do whatever needed to be done to revive his flagging career, Gere sought out some scripts that seemed like sure hits. Two movies released in 1990, Internal Affairs and Pretty Woman, turned his career completely around. In the dark, violent Internal Affairs, Gere played the unsympathetic character of Dennis Peck, a corrupt cop who brutalizes his young partner. The film brought him critical praise and a return to box-office viability. His stock soared even higher with the release of Pretty Woman in 1990. In this fantasy, described by Gere to Rensin as "a cross between My Fair Lady and Wall Street," the actor portrayed billionaire corporate raider Edward Lewis, who hires a streetwalker played by Julia Roberts to be his companion for a week. During that time, he transforms her into a high-class lady and falls in love with her. The picture was a phenomenal hit, grossing more than $430 million and turning Roberts into one of Hollywood's most marketable actresses. For his part, Gere was praised as a leading man for the nineties, comparable to a Cary Grant or a Clark Gable from an earlier era. Gere sought to balance his own desire to work in meaningful films with the demands of creating popular work, but succeeding films such as Final Analysis (1992, costarring Kim Basinger), Mr. Jones (1993), Sommersby (1993, costarring Jodie Foster), Intersection (1994, costarring Sharon Stone), and First Knight (1995, costarring Sean Connery) were critical and commercial disappointments. Gere focused a good deal during this period on his personal life and his relationship with supermodel Cindy Crawford, whom he married in 1991. The couple spent most of the next five years as the focus of media attention, much of it unpleasant. Upset by the constant tabloid rumors, Gere and Crawford even went so far as to take out an ad in a prominent London newspaper proclaiming their love for each other and denying claims that their marriage was a sham. The marriage eventually ended in divorce in 1995. In 1996, Gere had a modest success with the courtroom thriller Primal Fear, costarring Edward Norton and Laura Linney; it was Norton who really ran away with the movie, however, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his breakthrough performance as an altar boy on trial for murder. The following year, Gere starred in two more thrillers, Red Corner and The Jackal, costarring Bruce Willis. In 1999, Gere reunited with his Pretty Woman costar (Roberts) and director (Garry Marshall) in the much-hyped romantic comedy Runaway Bride, which received poor reviews but earned over $100 million at the box office. In 2000, Gere starred opposite the much-younger Winona Ryder in Autumn in New York, a sentimental May-December romance that failed to strike a chord with critics or audiences. He also headlined Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women, playing a gynecologist overwhelmed by the many women in his life (played by Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, and Kate Hudson, among others). In early 2002, Gere starred in The Mothman Prophecies with Laura Linney and Debra Messing. The movie made only a brief appearance in theaters. That same year, he starred in Unfaithful, portraying a wronged husband whose wife becomes involved with an unstable lover. In 2003, he received a Golden Globe for his performance in Chicago, an adaptation of the 1975 stage musical, also starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Gere is soon set to star opposite Jennifer Lopez in Shall We Dance?, a remake of the top-grossing Japanese flick. On February 6, 2000, Gere's longtime girlfriend, actress Carey Lowell (formerly of NBC's Law & Order), gave birth to their son, Homer James Jigme Gere. The couple married in November 2002. On May 27, 2000, Gere received a Man of Conscience award from India's film industry, or "Bollywood." The honor cited his efforts to promote Tibet's freedom from Chinese rule. In October of 2000, he accepted a humanitarian award named for former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for his work with Tibetmoreless

    Birth Name:

    Richard Tiffany Gere

    Gender:

    Male

    Birth Place:

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA)

  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (8)

    • Richard: Happiness is not about being loved, it's about loving someone else.

    • Richard Gere: I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe, and someone said I was a snake, I'd think, no, actually I'm a giraffe.

    • Richard Gere: I honestly do not think about celebrity or image or sexual expectations on me. It only comes up when people have a list of questions. But what I am told is that there is a quality that I have onscreen, where it's a little bit of everything.

    • Richard Gere: The secret of my success is my hairspray.

    • Richard Gere: What I can do is find the keys that will plug into my own 30 years of training in Buddhism, and find things that are parallel or resonant in the work that I have done.

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    Trivia (24)

    • In April 2007, an arrest warrant was issued in India for Richard’s arrest, after he kissed actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi. By Indian law, the display was classed as an obscene act in a public place. The punishment for such a crime is imprisonment for three months, or a fine or both. Richard apologised for the on stage antics, a day after the arrest warrant was issued.

    • In March/April 2007, Richard auctioned himself off for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a human rights organisation founded in 1968. The organisation aims to continue the legacy of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated. People can bid to have lunch with Richard in New York. As at March 21st, 2007, the current bit was $US13,500.

    • Richard and his wife Carey Lowell currently live in Greenwich Village with their son and her daughter from a previous marriage.

    • After countless rumors of their marriage being a sham and a cover-up for the both of them being homosexuals, both Richard and Cindy Crawford took out a full page ad in the London Times announcing that they were heterosexual, monogamous and in love.

    • On December 12, 1991, he married supermodel Cindy Crawford in Las Vegas.

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