Richard Gere: Why Family Is Important
Playing the Hollywood heart-throb has never been enough for Richard Gere
WHETHER AS A ladies’ man in American Gigolo or a lovelorn millionaire in Pretty Woman, Richard Gere, 67, has often been cast as a Casanova. But he has played plenty of serious parts as well, such as his portrait of a manic-depressive in Mr. Jones. In his new drama thriller, The Dinner, Gere impersonates a political careerist with major family problems. It was first shown in February at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. And while he was there, the film star and committed Buddhist also met Chancellor Angela Merkel for an exchange of views.
Reader’s Digest: In The Dinner you play an influential politician; in real life you’ve long been a political activist. Which role is more satisfying for you?
Richard Gere: They’re both equally satisfying, though for different reasons. I have two appointment diaries, one for my acting jobs, the other for my political activities. But that didn’t stop me forgetting the appointment I had this morning. Someone had to knock on the door to remind me that I was supposed to be attending a meeting on Tibet.
Do you talk to the Dalai Lama about current affairs, or only about spiritual matters?
We talk about almost anything. The Dalai Lama wants to know what’s going on in the world, so he talks to people with very different views. His curiosity is limitless, as is his ability to create a positive vision for this planet.
Some time ago you established a foundation of your own. What made you do this?
I was a little frustrated by the other public foundations. In this way we can help people much more directly. The focus is on Tibet, but we are also concerned with more general human and civil rights issues.
The Dinner is about the way parents deal with the crimes their children have committed. What relationship do you have with your family?
Family is very important for me. I have three sisters and a brother. My mother died last year, and my father is 94. We are all very close. We talk to each other all the time, and we support each other.
Sometimes I realise how extraordinary that is. There are so many families who never talk to one another or help each other. I’ve heard horror stories about siblings who haven’t spoken a single word to each other for years, about parents who have been expropriated or children disinherited. So I count myself particularly lucky to have this close, emotional support system.
How do you combine family life with your acting career?
Years ago I decided I would never be more than an hour’s journey away from my son, Homer (now 17). That’s why in the last six years I’ve only done movies produced in New York or Philadelphia. The only exception was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was filmed in India. But there I limited my time on set to three weeks.
Your second name is Tiffany. How did that happen?
It was my mother’s maiden name, Doris Tiffany. So it’s got nothing to do with the jewellery store or Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
“Years ago I decided I would never be more than an hour’s journey away from my son”