RICHARD GERE’S BIG ISSUE
THE STAR DISCUSSES GOING HOMELESS FOR TIME OUT OF MIND
“I COULD SEE PEOPLE MAKE A JUDGEMENT about me,” says Richard Gere about playing a homeless man on the streets of New York in Time Out Of Mind. “They’d be thinking, ‘He’s a homeless. He wants money. He’s probably on drugs or drunk. Oh, I feel guilty now.’ I could see people going through this interior opera from two blocks away. We all do it.”
Time Out Of Mind — the title comes from Bob Dylan’s 1997 album — represents a labour of love for the actor. It’s a moving character study of George (Gere), a sensitive, articulate homeless guy who roams the Big Apple looking for shelter, battling bureaucracy and trying to connect with his estranged daughter (Jena Malone). The actor has nursed the project for 12 years, indie-fying it in the process.
“The original script I bought was a much more traditional thing, with a villain and a court case,” he says. “Those kind of things weren’t interesting to me. I think there is a human quality to everyone in this.”
With writer-director Oren Moverman, Gere created what he describes as a neo-realist way of working, the actor slipping into character on the streets while cameras using long lenses unobtrusively captured the action from a distance. “When the camera is far away, the whole filmmaking process is far away,” Gere suggests. “It’s much easier to behave and create a more delicate sense of reality.”
Given Gere’s fame, surely passers-by recognised him and ruined the take for a selfie? “During 22 days of shooting, I only had two people recognise me. And they were both in Grand Central station!” he says. “It was a bizarre thing. But when I was in character on the streets, the vibe I was giving off gave people the cue not to pay attention to me.”
TIME OUT OF MIND IS OUT ON MARCH 4.