With his critically acclaimed turn as a duplicitous Wall Street lion fighting for life and limb in “Arbitrage,” Richard Gere (Hollywood Career Achievement Award) downplays decades of career peaks to emphasize how “lucky” and “fortunate” he is.
“It surprises me when I realize that I’ve been doing this for four or five decades at this point,” says the actor, who began in regional theater before arriving in New York in the late 1960s.
“I was lucky. I could sing and play musical instruments and it was the time of rock musicals on Broadway. I was extremely fortunate.”
While one of his first films was Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” it was “American Gigolo” that catapulted Gere into movie stardom.
“But ‘Days’ put me on the map in terms of the business,” the actor notes.
Looking back, he puts things into his own perspective. “I never worried about my career. I wanted to work, but it’s not the only thing in my life. The world of spirit is important to me, the world of the mind, the world in general. I’m healthy and see this as a job, a really terrific job — and I don’t want to give the impression I don’t appreciate it. I never took it for granted. All the things that have happened, that will happen, I don’t take it for granted.”
In “Arbitrage,” Gere’s Robert Miller dodges a manslaughter rap, cooks his hedge fund’s books to negotiate a sale with an inflated price and betrays both wife and daughter. The thesp knew he succeeded in his portrayal when he fielded calls from outraged friends.
“They were very angry that they cared about this character,” he reveals. “They knew he’s a snake, and at the same time they wanted somehow to see him get out of his problems.”
Getting the audience to root for a charming predator is two tricks really, says Gere. “It’s what (director) Nick Jarecki wrote in the screenplay and it’s my job to make my characters human. It’s a movie that’s not about the financial world at all but the compromises people make.”
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