A LOOK FORWARD FROM 1978 AT A CAREER ON THE RISE.
Byline: Valerie Wade, September 1978
Richard Gere is going to be a big movie star — all the ingredients are there. Physically, he’s near the mold of ethnic actors like Pacino, Hoffman and DeNiro, but he’s taller, healthier looking and prettier.
Gere’s first major role was the sinister, seductive Tony the hustler in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.” In the last year, he has finished two major films, Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” which has just been released in New York, and Robert Mulligan’s “Blood Brothers,” which opens next week after showing at the New York Film Festival. For the last four months, he’s been in England, playing a clean-cut sensitive American GI in John Schlesinger’s “Yanks.” The film is about three American servicemen stationed in the north of England in 1943 who fall in love with English women….
Sitting between shots in his trailer on an enormous reconstructed army base outside Bradford, England, Gere, who hates giving interviews and vows he won’t be caught dead on talk shows, reluctantly talks about his state of career and mind.
“I always knew it was theater I wanted to do,” he says, stubbing out a cigarette on the oven broiler he was using as an ashtray. “Movies are bourgeois to me. It’s a very dangerous medium. It’s seductive and very easy to manipulate an audience, because seeing a movie is a very easy experience.”
Gere already has set up a company to develop his own projects and says he is working on a script with a friend. Eventually, he would also like to direct. He’d still jump at a great theater role, but feels the best parts available to him have been in films. He feels the theater is in a sad state at the moment: “I just don’t know what these straight-ahead formula things are all about. Even the serious plays are very superficial — they give the impression that you’re racking your brain and searching your soul, but it’s nowhere….”
Gere majored in philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, but dropped out after two years. “I suppose I had a flare for acting in high school or I wouldn’t have continued. But it wasn’t as if people were running up with contracts.”
He’s passionate about music and always considered becoming a musician as an alternative to acting. He plays the guitar and piano, composes and once joined a rock group — but not for long. “Musicians,” he says, “are even harder to get along with than actors.”