East Hampton's Guild Gall was packed to the rafters Saturday night for "A Conversation With... Richard Gere," even though the star lives not far away in North Haven with his family.
Wearing the silver-rimmed spectacles and casual suit that have become his trademark outfit, Gere, 63, sat with Alec Baldwin for an hourlong interview that touched on his early career and remarkable five-decade run as a leading man. Here are edited versions of Gere's thoughts on various topics:
On Richard Brooks, the eccentric director of Gere's early film "Looking for Mr. Goodbar."
He had one script in the safe and one script at Paramount. And the reason he had the one script was in case anyone assassinated him. I wanted to read the script, and so I went to his house. And what the guy had done is blacked out everything that wasn't my part! I had no context for anything.
How his sex-symbol role in "American Gigolo" changed his career.
I didn't feel anything. I was just playing a part. Some people think that part was me, which is a good thing because it means I was effective. I suppose there is some kind of residue left over from that character. [Baldwin: "Ya think?"]
His first impressions of "An Officer and a Gentleman."
I felt it was too sentimental. I never believed in the ending. It's too romantic, it's never gonna work. . . I remember shooting the scene in the factory, I kept saying [to director Taylor Hackford], "Come on, let’s do something else, we've got time." He said, "Look, we're here, let’s just do it." Watching it later, with the music in, the hairs on the back of [my] neck stood up.
His favorite movie experience.
The most fun I've ever had making a movie was "Chicago," for sure. I was told, "They're desperate for you to make this movie! If you're not in it, they’re not gonna make it! They'll just shelve it!" Later I found out that Rob [Marshall, the director] was told, "Richard is desperate to make this movie! He'll leave the business if he doesn't get the part!" So those were both lies. And as soon as Rob and I met, we just got along great.
Whether there were any roles he still desperately wanted to play.
The one role that I never had any interest in, and I did get the chance to play it, is father. I have a beautiful son, and that's my life.
Los Angeles versus the Hamptons.
You know, it's such a fishbowl [in L.A.]. Here where I live, I've been coaching baseball for seven years. No one’s ever asked me for my autograph.