Script caught Richard's eye
Richard Gere stars in a tense new thriller called Arbitrage. The Hollywood superstar talks to Susan Griffin about playing a billionaire.
TRICKY, earnest and difficult are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe Richard Gere in interviews. The man's not a fan of media work, of that we know.
So it's a surprise when the star, notably on time, walks along the hotel corridor towards the group of journalists waiting to speak to him and greets us with a wave.
"Hi, how are you doing?" he says, flashing a smile. That small gesture is more than most actors of his stature deign to make.
These days it takes a lot for the actor, 63, to leave his boutique hotel in upstate New York, which he shares with former model and Bond girl Carey Lowell, his wife of 10 years, and their son Homer, 13, but Arbitrage stood out.
"My agents were very clever," he explains. "They gave me the script and I said, 'Tell me more'. They said, 'No, just read the script'.
"I've obviously read a lot of scripts in my lifetime. I read it and it was terrific."
The fact it was set in New York was another draw but there was one area of concern.
"My agents said, 'The good news is the script, the bad news is he's never made a movie before'," says Gere, referring to director and screenwriter Nicholas Jarecki.
A graduate from NYU Film School, Jarecki had written a book on how famous film directors started out, then a documentary.
"Directing a movie's not the easiest thing to do on the planet," says Gere. "I took a deep breath and went, 'Look, he wrote the script, so let's spend some time together'."
That they did, beginning with a three-hour meeting in a restaurant that ended with them playing out one of the scenes: Gere as the billionaire protagonist Robert Miller and Jarecki as his mistress.
"We yelled at each other in character," recalls Jarecki. "Then he grabbed my arm and pushed me up against the wall, staring deeply into my eyes. I said, 'I would kiss you right now'."
In the end the actor decided to jump in and the result is a taut, suspense thriller about hedge fund magnate Miller that begins on the eve of his 60th birthday.
On the surface he appears to be the epitome of success, but he's in over his head.
Gere says: "I chose to make this guy as multi-dimensional as I could because I've never met someone who was one thing."
Miller's decisions aren't always conventionally moral but, like many characters in the movie, he tells himself he's doing the wrong thing for the right reason.
"I don't think any of us are true all the time," says Gere. "There's an element of spin in almost everything we do and I didn't find him out of the realm of my knowledge of human behaviour or even myself."