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The Untold Truth Of Richard Gere

When Tom Cruise earned worldwide recognition in 1986 as the Navy bad boy Maverick in "Top Gun," the character wasn't a million years removed from the role Richard Gere played four years earlier in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Like Maverick, fellow Navy brat Mayo also wanted to fly jets. He was also a renegade who had a hard time with authority, carried himself with a certain arrogance, and had a habit of writing checks his body couldn't cash. Yet Mayo has a depth, a complexity, and a characterization that leaves Maverick looking like a one-dimensional fly-boy. In part that's due to the script and the themes of "An Officer and a Gentleman," but Gere's nuanced and brooding acting style also plays a major contribution.

Gere's role in "An Officer and a Gentleman" was career-defining and the key which unlocked the heart of a watching world. Yet it was by no means a fluke. The man from Philly has played a lot of parts in his 40-year-plus career, but he never goes into a role half-hearted, has a simmering intensity that's always engaging. As he told The Guardian, "Acting is a fraud – but if you don't fill it with the truth then it has no power." From "Breathless" and "The Cotton Club" to "Chicago" and "Time Out of Mind," Gere has packed a powerful punch. In his later years, he has been quite selective about the work he takes and admitted, "They don't send me stuff now unless the script is good because I don't want them to waste my time." You've seen the movies, read the PR, and now it's time to reveal the untold truth of Richard Gere.

Richard Gere has fans in the remote jungles of Borneo

You know you're a big noise in the world of film when you can't walk down a city sidewalk without being mobbed by hordes of fans and a stray opportunistic paparazzi looking for that exclusive pic. Yet being a household name in, for want of a better term, the civilized world, is a garden variety kind of fame when compared to being a pin-up in the remote corners of the globe untouched by modern life. Take Richard Gere for example, he's not just big in Japan — he also has fans who also inhabit the jungles of Borneo. During an interview on The Graham Norton Show, Gere explained how he once visited the island in the Malay Archipelago of Southeast Asia and chartered a missionary pilot to take him from Samarinda into the heart of the jungle.

In a small aircraft with no other passenger apart from his Brazilian girlfriend, the pilot performed the extremely tricky maneuver of landing on a tiny strip of land alongside a river. Gere and his girlfriend departed the plane and the pilot took off. With the help of tribespeople, they took a canoe upriver and came to a longhouse. Communicating solely by hand gestures the tribesmen ushered Gere and his girlfriend toward the building. At that point, Gere revealed the whole tribe came out, and in unison began excitedly chanting, "Officer, gentleman, officer, gentleman!"

He's a committed Buddhist

Richard Gere explained in an interview with Lion's Roar that during his early twenties he felt unhappy, unfulfilled, and was constantly asking questions about the nature of existence. In his quest for meaning, he scoured late-night bookshops and read prolifically hoping to find something that helped him make sense of the universe. He eventually stumbled upon some books on Tibetan Buddhism by Walter Evans-Wentz and it ignited a life-long adherence to the Buddhist faith. Gere explained, "They had all the romance of a good novel," but added that the book's real strength was the revelation that living in the world and being detached from it were not mutually exclusive. Soon after Gere began studying in the Zen tradition under Sasaki Roshi.

Six years after becoming a Zen student, Gere met the Dalai Lama in India, who asked the actor if he was really angry and sad when he was playing a part. Gere admits he gave "some kind of actor answer" to which the Dali began to laugh hysterically at the very thought that Gere "would believe emotions are real." Gere explained that it was a life-transforming event meeting "His Holiness' and has since called him "my root guru." When asked if he brings a Buddhist approach to filmmaking, Gere explained that because in essence, film fragments time and space for a new "reality," he believes the process helps with "loosening the mind." He added that although, "we're the magicians doing the trick, even we get caught up thinking that it is all real."

He wasn't invited to the Academy Awards for two decades after making anti-China comments

When Richard Gere stepped onto the stage to announce the Oscar for Best Art Direction at the 1993 Academy Awards, everyone was expecting the standard teleprompter speech. What they got was something else. Gere used the spotlight to highlight "what a horrendous human rights situation there is in China, not only towards their own people but to Tibet as well." Gere then urged the audience to collectively, "send love and a kind of sanity to Deng Xiaoping right now in Beijing, that he will take his troops and take the Chinese away from Tibet and allow people to live as free independent people again." After Gere made his controversial stand in front of an audience of billions he wasn't invited back to the Oscars until two decades later.

Although the Academy Awards press office told GQ that they didn't ban Gere because they have no such policy, the actor told the Huffington Post, "If you stay around long enough, they forget they've banned you." Gere was reunited with other members of the "Chicago" cast for a musical performance at the 2013 Academy Awards. Although "Chicago" swept the board with six Oscars ten years earlier, and four actors from the film were nominated, Gere's name was not amongst them. The Daily Express reports that during an interview with The View, Gere, who plays Billy Flynn in the movie, explained that it was a bit of a sore point that his name never got called out alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah, Renee Zellweger, and John C. Reilly. "Wow, what happened? I have to admit that got to me," he revealed.

Richard Gere blames China for his lack of Hollywood job offers

The perceived slight from the Academy Awards was just the tip of a rather ugly iceberg. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Gere reveals he believes that fateful night in 1993 has harmed his acting career and led to a lack of job offers. As someone who has enjoyed a long-term relationship with the Dalai Lama and is a committed Buddhist, Gere continued to be vocal in his support for Tibet. As well as rallying people to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics, The Gere Foundation actively strives for the "cultural preservation of Tibet" and is firmly against the "continuing brutal occupation of the Chinese."

Gere believes that the strengthening of ties between the movie business and the authoritarian country, which is now the second-biggest market for films in the world, has hampered his opportunities. The former in-demand leading man explained, "There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, 'Not with him!' I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese." Yet the major studio's losses are the independent's gains. Since much of Hollywood turned its back on him, Gere's star has continued to shine in a series of low-key films that have earned him rave reviews. And as the man himself points out, "I'm not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tentpole."

He apologized to India for publicly kissing Shilpa Shetty

Richard Gere has always had something of a reputation as a ladies' man, but the former Hollywood heartthrob was once in the surreal position of having to apologize for kissing a lady in public. According to the Associated Press, the silver fox quite literally swept Indian actress Shilpa Shetty off her feet with a kiss and embrace that mimicked his move from the film "Shall We Dance." Gere gave the Bollywood star the unsuspecting kiss at an AIDS awareness event in New Delhi. On the surface, it appeared quite inconspicuous but hard-line Hindu groups took umbrage at the public display of affection which is taboo in much of India. In the city of Jaipur, a judge accused Gere and Shetty of breaking obscenity laws, and arrest warrants were issued.

On The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Gere defended the kiss and blamed the "moral police in India" for causing such a furor. Gere, who spends a lot of time in India, was confident the matter would be resolved without jail time or a fine, and legal experts agreed with him. India's former attorney general Soli Sorabjee called the matter ridiculous and although a "bit vulgar, it does not amount to obscenity." Shetty was summoned before the court on a charge of not resisting a "highly sexually erotic" hiss. Feeling responsible, Gere issued a statement apologizing for any offense caused and stressed that his focus was as HIV/AIDS advocate. He appealed to the media to let the circus end and stressed Shetty was blameless in the incident.

Richard Gere owns a Westchester inn

If ever you're on the outskirts of New York, feeling a bit peckish and in need of spending some quality time in an eighteenth-century country inn that has been lovingly restored by its owner, then why not check out Richard Gere's Bedford Post Inn? New York Magazine reports that Gere opened the Inn with his former wife Carey Lowell, and although she once enthused her other half could boil "a wonderful egg," Gere explained, "I want this to be a place where the minds of people who could change the world would meet."

Gere stumbled upon the idea of buying the rotting historical landmark after riding past it on a horse trail and having a vision of rescuing it. The deal went down in 2007 and the local community embraced Gere and his Inn. "Everyone is welcome, but it's really for locals. There were really no good restaurants in the area." Since his separation from Lowell, the Inn now belongs to Gere and his business partner Russell Hernandez. As well as indulging in more "terrestrial delights" you can also feed the mind and enjoy a yoga course or two after booking in.

Richard Gere had a big falling out with Sylvester Stallone over Princess Diana

Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere have something of a history. During the filming of "The Lords of Flatbush" things got a little heated when Gere began to play a little rough with Stallone during an improvised fight scene. In a question and answer session with Ain't It Cool, Stallone said, "He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table." Things escalated when the grease and mustard from half a chicken Gere was munching on dripped all over Sly's pants. Sensing difficulties between the two actors, the director gave Gere his marching orders and the part of Chico went to Perry King. The feud, apparently, would rage on.

According to Elton John, the fierce rivalry between the two leading men came to a head at a dinner party where they both vied for the attention of Princess Diana. The Daily Express reports that in his 2019 book "Me," John describes the natural chemistry between Gere and the Princess which appeared to anger fellow guest Stallone who was reportedly staring daggers at the couple. The "Rocket Man" hitmaker wrote that he believes Stallone might have turned up just to hit on Diana only to find Gere had thrown a spanner in the works. He later alleges he had to break up a near fistfight between the two actors, with Sly snarling, "I never would have come if I'd known Prince f***in Charming was gonna be here."

His middle name is Tiffany and he was voted 2015's sexiest man over 60

During his career, Richard Gere has attracted a lot of female attention. The final scene in "An Officer and a Gentleman," the smoldering gaze he uses to maximum effect in "Pretty Women," and the naked scene in "American Gigolo" have all conspired to give an extra little boost to the Gere effect. Yet even after nearly four decades in the biz, the famously grey-haired actor with the unusual middle name of Tiffany was still turning heads and winning votes as the sexiest man over 60. The 100,000-plus global network of females over 60 who make up Sixty and Me, voted the 65-year-old Gere their sexiest man of vintage in 2015.

It's not as ego-boosting as the sexiest man alive award he picked up in 1999, but it's still a strong honor to receive at any age. Gere was given the title because he has "a persona that appeals to women of all ages – intelligent, independent, playful, self-confident and sensual." Gere was described as "drop-dead gorgeous" and completely oblivious to the effect he has on the fairer sex. He was also given the label of being "beautifully humble while exuding charisma." In a nod to his Buddhist leanings they also called him sensuous but with an otherworldly detachment." If you could bottle that special something which Gere possesses in bucketfuls, then perhaps Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, and Jeff Bridges would be interesting in buying some. They all were runners-up to Gere in the sexy over-60 stakes. Never mind boys! It's not the winning, but taking part which counts.

Richard Gere can trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower

Following 66 long days at sea, the Mayflower finally landed on the shores of the new world on November 21, 1620. Amongst the 102 settlers who had crossed the Atlantic from Plymouth, England looking for a better life, were the ancestors of man who would over three centuries later have the sort of job that would be beyond their comprehension. Still pictures were not a thing back then, let alone ones that moved. Nevertheless, Gere is one of 35 million people in the world who can trace their lineage to the Mayflower Pilgrims. According to Mayflower 400, Gere is a descendant of William Brewster, as are Bing Crosby and Katharine Hepburn. Gere's descendants also include Lincolnshire couple John and Eleanor Billington.

During festivities in Yorkshire to mark 400 years since the Mayflower set sail, it was hoped by various dignitaries that Gere would be a guest of honor. The Yorkshire Post reports that Bassetlaw MP John Mann said that Tory Dame Caroline Spelman, who was invited to take part in the anniversary celebrations would "be very welcome to re-tread the streets of Scrooby. If she does, she might care to bring one of the many descendants of the Pilgrims with her, if she with her good contacts could arrange it. The most popular would probably be Mr. Richard Gere." Speaking in the House of Commons, Dame Caroline sighed, "Mr. Speaker, if only." Interestingly, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve, and Hugh Hefner all share a common Mayflower ancestor as well. His name is William Bradford.

He's a versatile musician who can tap dance

Before he dropped out of university to pursue a career on the stage, Richard Gere always had one foot on it as a versatile musician. Gere played four different instruments in high school and wrote the scores for amateur productions. Gere explained to Interview that he used to play in a host of rock bands with names like The Strangers, and The Outsiders, and he took turns singing, playing guitar, tinkling the ivories, and once in a blue moon, bashing the drums. He said it wasn't a conscious decision to pursue acting but more of a direction that found him.

In the later years, Gere has been found playing the cello, and blowing the trumpet, which he perfected for his role in "The Cotton Club." Gere called the process magical and explained, "Through the process of practicing four hours a day you start focusing on emotion and when you pick up the trumpet it's filled with feeling." During the filming of "Chicago," Gere also added another string to his bow when he learned how to tap-dance from scratch. In an interview with The Early Show, Gere explained trying to become anywhere near plausible in the art of tap in a few months was both daunting and humbling. "I was very shy about it when I was learning it. And I'd be in a separate room and lock the doors. And no one was allowed to come in there, just me and my teacher," he said.

He has taken a lot of roles that John Travolta turned down

Five years before John Travolta made the character of Danny Zuko in the rock n' roll musical "Grease" familiar to millions of teenagers worldwide, the role was being played by another young and upcoming actor called Richard Gere. Coventry Live reports that the stage production of "Grease" was the 23-year-old Gere's big break. As an understudy in America, Gere jumped at the chance to play the lead in a tour of the UK's West End. In 1978 Travolta followed in Gere's footsteps and immortalized the role in the film version.

As if to make amends for not playing Zuko on the big screen, Gere would go on to develop a habit of picking up a lot of roles that Travolta had turned down, or couldn't commit to, and turn them into a success. On Kevin Hart's show, Hart to Hart, Travolta explained that was offered first dibs of playing Bill in "Days of Heaven" but had to take a raincheck. Travolta said, "It was such a significant role, that Richard Gere ended up doing, which ended up a theme, where he did many roles I didn't do."