Richard Gere will go down in history. After his portrayal in Pretty Woman, the adored actor rose to international fame, and the 73-year-old has since become a global heartthrob.
Gere’s career has been quite extraordinary, in part because he was once essentially prohibited from starring in major motion pictures. Instead, for one very good reason, he concentrated on making independent films.
Richard Gere revealed that he almost decided not to star in Pretty Woman and that he had already ruined his career at that point. Looking back, things might have turned out very differently for him.
Growing up, Richard Gere wasn’t exactly a showman. His fascination with movies and theater began much later in life. However, those bright eyes and vivacious smile were there from the start.
Gere, who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 31, 1949, spent his childhood on a farm close to Syracuse, New York. He characterized his upbringing as “normal and all-American.” Early on, he only engaged in music and sports.
Gere excelled at gymnastics as a youngster. His family still enjoys watching gymnastics today.
In high school, Richard was a multi-instrumentalist who also wrote a number of impromptu musical productions. His first encounter with the stage was going to be this. But it took some time for him to decide that it would be his thing.
After receiving a gymnastics scholarship, Gere enrolled at the University of Massachusetts to study philosophy. But after only a year in college, he made the decision to leave and devote himself to his passion full-time.
Richard Gere had already developed a deep love for acting at this point. Gere decided to try something different after a few unsuccessful performances, so he relocated “across the pond” to London, England.
There, he was offered the part of Danny Zuko in the London production of Grease. He made the decision to leave and return to the United States when the musical was staged in New York. Early in the 1970s, he found work on Broadway and started to shine brightly.
Gere received praise from critics for his portrayal of a murderer on death row in Killer’s Head and made the same choice as many of his contemporaries. He would switch to working on the screen rather than just the stage.
Richard Gere – the story of ‘Pretty Woman’
In 1977, Gere got his breakthrough role in the thriller Looking for Mr. Goodbar, starring alongside Diane Keaton. A year later, he landed a starring role in Days of Heaven, and in 1980, Gere got the title role in American Gigolo.
Richard Gere was becoming an actor on the rise. He then became Hollywood’s heartthrob after starring in Pretty Woman alongside Julia Roberts and An Officer and a Gentleman alongside Debra Winger.
Richard Gere’s performance in Pretty Woman sure was something special. The film is one of the greatest ever romcoms, but many might not know that Gere almost didn’t star in it.
In fact, it was Julia Roberts who convinced him to do the film.
“To be honest, I didn’t know if I was doing this movie yet. She’s across the desk, we’re getting to know each other, we’re flirty-flirty, nice-nice,” Gere said in 2015.
“And [director Garry Marshall] calls up and it’s kind of like, ‘How’s it going?’ And I’m going, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and she takes a piece of paper. She turns it around, and she pushes it to me. It said, ‘Please say yes.’ It was so sweet. And I was like [miming talking on the phone], ‘I just said yes.’”
Due to his numerous standout roles in romantic comedies, Gere rose to fame. But if not for Pretty Woman’s enormous success, his acting career might have been all but over, at least on the big screen.
Richard Geree admitted in a 1993 interview that he never really imagined he’d be acting in movies like “Pretty Woman” in the first place.Prior to “Pretty Woman,” Richard Gere acknowledged that his career had suffered.
However, he believed he had ruined his career before even getting a significant role.
“Pretty Woman is something I never would have done. Neither is An Officer and a Gentleman. I had no interest in these scripts whatsoever,” Gere said in a 1993 interview with Movieline magazine.
“It was the same person knocking my door down on both of them, Jeffrey Katzenberg, first at Paramount, then at Disney, who was one of my first friends out here and still is. At the point of Pretty Woman, I had been kind of out of things for a while. I consciously [had] just said, ‘Going off to do other things’ and I fucked up my career to the point where [people weren’t saying], ‘Well, let’s get Gere to do that.’”
He continued, “I had to crawl a little bit to get scripts. Doing Internal Affairs, for instance, was a very difficult decision for me to make because, potentially, that could have been such a piece of shit.”
“One thing lead to another and I started to see something I could bring to this,” Richard Gere recalled about the time when he considered Pretty Woman. “But it was a fairly mercantile decision, not a soul decision. Made the movie, had a great time making the movie and, probably because of the lack of pressure to do something important, I was able to explore other things in myself and as a man, too. I think I found a much freer way of working in that film, which I’ve used ever since.”
We are all aware of what occurred with Pretty Woman at this point. Years later, it helped shape Richard Geree’s career, but he now has a very different perspective on it. The 74-year-old mentioned the “silly” movie in a 2012 interview with Woman’s Day Magazine, calling it one he had forgotten about.
“I’ve forgotten it”
Furthermore, Gere asserted that he thinks Edward Lewis, the character he created, glorified Wall Street financiers and contributed to the world financial crisis.
“People ask me about that movie, but I’ve forgotten it. That was a silly romantic comedy. This is a much more serious movie that has some real cause and effect,” Gere said. “It made those guys seem dashing, which was so wrong,” he added. “Thankfully, , today, we are all more sceptical of those guys.”
Due to his numerous standout roles in romantic comedies, Gere rose to fame.
Despite appearing in some legendary and classic movies, the actor has not yet been nominated for an Academy Award. However, it doesn’t seem like he is particularly interested in accolades and recognition.
Some actors will only accept the most important roles because they are so desperate to become famous. Richard Gere, however, is not one of them. There are no blockbuster or franchise movies, no superhero films, and no sequels on his resume.
“My career has never been thought out,” he told the Independent. “I never engineered a career. I just have always done whatever I wanted.”
“You’re restricted by what you’re offered but the incredible list of brilliant directors and actors and writers I’ve worked with, you know I’m kind of amazed myself that I’ve been able to ride this career this long with such good people.”
Why China permanently barred Richard Gere
Richard Gere is a devoted parent to many kids. He has dated some of the most well-known women in the world, such as Priscilla Presley, Cindy Crawford, and Carey Lowell, and has been married three times over the years.
Today, Gere is a contented husband. This time, he is doing it with a much younger person. Alejandra Silva, his lovely wife, is 33 years his junior.
Given Gere’s career and the fact that he has spent an eternity in the Hollywood spotlight, one would assume that he has tunnel vision when it comes to all things cinematic. However, as Gere noted, his career would be forever altered by a single night in 1993.
Richard Gere converted to Buddhism and became close with the Dalai Lama.
Gere didn’t read from his pre-approved script when he was scheduled to present the Best Art Director award at the 1993 Academy Awards. Instead, Gere seized the opportunity to denounce China’s rule over Tibet and its “horrendous, horrendous human rights situation.”
Gil Cates, the producer of the Academy Awards, was indignant and vowed to bar Gere from future Oscars broadcasts.
Nobody could stand in Richard Gere’s way when it came to his ideas and convictions. He demanded a boycott of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. He was given a lifetime travel ban from China by Chinese authorities because of his two different foundations, the International Campaign for Tibet and The Gere Foundation.
Richard Gere and China became the worst of enemies, and China soon after became the world’s second-biggest box-office market.
“If you release this film, we’re not buying it”
Richard Gere claims that as a result, the biggest studios have repeatedly passed on casting him because the Chinese populace and government are opposed to having him in their productions.
“There are definitely movies that I can’t be in because the Chinese will say, ‘Not with him’,” Richard Gere explained.
“I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese.”
The highly regarded Hollywood star was fully aware of how important the big studios’ relationship with the Chinese market was in 1997. Studio MGM made a startling choice after filming for his part in Red Corner, where he played an American businessman who was falsely accused in China.
“Everyone was happy with the film,” Richard Gere said.
“I get calls from the heads of the studio. Went on Oprah. Then, out of nowhere, I get calls saying, ‘We don’t want you doing press.’ MGM wanted to make an overall deal with the Chinese. China told them, ‘If you release this film, we’re not buying it.’ And so, they dumped it.”
The most crucial thing is always to follow your passion, and Richard Gere is doing just that. He may no longer be appearing in the biggest and most lucrative Hollywood productions, but that is exactly what he is doing.
Gere now spends all of his time on independent films and smaller movies, which he adores. He hasn’t been negatively impacted by the Hollywood studios’ refusal to work with him, despite this.
“The studios are interested in the possibility of making huge profits,” he explained.
“But I’m still making the same films that I was making when I started. Small, interesting, character-driven and narrative-driven stories. It hasn’t impacted my life at all.”
“I’m not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tentpole,” he added. “I was successful enough in the last three decades that I can afford to do these [smaller films] now.”
If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d be interested in reading about what Cindy Crawford really thought of Richard when they were married.
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