Richard Gere: Why Fam­ily Is Im­por­tant

Play­ing the Hol­ly­wood heart-throb has never been enough for Richard Gere

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY DIETER OSSWALD

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”

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