"I honestly do not think about celebrity or image or sexual expectations on me. It only comes up when people have a list of questions. But what I am told is that there is a quality that I have onscreen, where it's a little bit of everything." Richard Gere
Movie hunk and celebrity Buddhist Richard Gere was first noticed while playing roles in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) and Days of Heaven (1978). The charismatic actor subsequently became the leading man in such films as American Gigolo (1980), An Officer and A Gentleman (1982), The Cotton Club (1984), Pretty Woman (1990), Runaway Bride (1999), Unfaithful (2002), Chicago (2002, won Best Actor Golden Globe), Shall We Dance (2004) and Bee Season (2005). On stage, he was first praised for an off-Broadway appearance in Killer's Head (1975) and later won a Theatre World for performing in Broadway’s "Bent" (1980). His upcoming films include The Hoax, I'm Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan, The Flock, and Emperor Zehnder.
Archetypal, handsome Richard Gere, one of the most successful sex symbols of the '80s and early '90s, was voted People Magazine's “Sexiest Man Alive” in 1999 and became the first man ever to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine. The 5' 10 1/2'' tall, Irish-American humanitarian and actor was also one of John Willis' Screen World’s twelve "Promising New Actors of 1977" and People magazine’s “The 50 Most Beautiful People in The World” (1991). Privately, the ex-husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford was linked to actress Penelope Milford (together five years), executive Dawn Steel (1975-1978) and Brazilian painter Sylvia Martins. He is currently the husband of actress Carey Lowell and has one son with her.
Childhood and Family:
"I don't want to be a personality." Richard Gere
The second child of Anglo-Irish parents Homer Gere (insurance salesman) and Doris Gere, Richard Tiffany Gere was born on August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Along with his four siblings (three sisters and one brother), Richard grew up in a strict Methodist family, on a farm outside of Syracuse, New York, where young Richard spent much of his time writing and playing music.
Richard Gere graduated from North Syracuse Central High School in 1967, where he was a member of the student council, gymnastics, lacrosse, ski, and music team (he played the trumpet and wrote music for high school productions). He won a gymnastics scholarship to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he majored in philosophy and drama. Two years later, in 1969, Gere dropped out to pursue acting. He also pursued a professional trumpeting career.
On December 12, 1991, Richard Gere exchanged wedding vows with supermodel Cindy Cawford at the Little Church of the West, in Las Vegas, but they divorced in 1995. That same year, he began dating actress Carey Lowell and the couple eventually tied the knot on November 9, 2002. Gere and Lowell have one son, Homer James Jigme Gere ("Jigme" means "fearless" in Tibetan), born on February 6, 2000.
Of screen, Gere, who switched his faith to the Tibetan school of Buddhism and became a student of the exiled Dalai Lama, is a founding member (with composer Philip Glass and several academics) of Tibet House, a nonprofit organization based in NYC's Greenwich Village, which is dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. He is also President of The Gere Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 1991 focusing on international humanitarian issues, with emphasis on Tibet. Additionally, Gere campaigns for ecological causes and AIDS awareness.
"When I am there [Tibet], I am very happy. The Tibetans radiate. They literally send out light. His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] generates love and compassion to every human being. He has committed himself to that. I haven't made that leap yet. I haven't given up self-aspiration. I still love making movies." Richard Gere
An excelled musician, Richard Gere began acting by joining the Provincetown Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre for one season each (1969-1970). He debuted on Broadway, reprising his role in the original London stage version of the hit musical "Grease," playing Danny Zuko. He also became one of the few Americans ever to work with Britain's Young Vic Theater, with which he appeared in “The Taming of the Shrew.” Gere subsequently appeared on television in the drama Chelsea D.H.O. (1973, starring Frank Converse). Two years later, Gere made his first appearance in a motion picture, with a small part in Milton Katselas's adaptation of James Mills' novel, the crime drama Report to the Commissioner. He followed it up with a more significant role in the made-for-TV movie Strike Force (1975) and then in John D. Hancock's drama film Baby Blue Marine (1976, starring Jan-Michael Vincent). He also returned on stage as part of the cast of an off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard's “Killer's Head” (1975).
In 1977, Gere gathered attention for playing a supporting role in Richard Brooks' screen version of Judith Rossner's novel, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. The following year, he won his first leading role, opposite Brooke Adams, playing a young couple pretending to be brother and sister, in writer-director Terrence Malick's breathtaking Days of Heaven. He then starred in Robert Mulligan's drama film, inspired by Richard Price's novel, Bloodbrothers (1978), playing Tony Lo Bianco's son, and in John Schlesinger's romantic period drama Yanks (1979, alongside Vanessa Redgrave). On the Broadway stage, Gere returned as a homosexual inmate of Dachau, in Martin Sherman's "Bent," which won him a Theatre World award.
Richard Gere’s acting career soared after he starred in writer-director Paul Schrader's crime drama American Gigolo (1980, opposite Lauren Hutton) and Taylor Hackford's romantic drama An Officer and a Gentleman (1982, opposite Debra Winger). Gere was then seen as a streetwise male hustler, who has an affair with a brilliant college student, in Jim McBride's drama film based on the 1959 French film by Godard, Breathless (1983, with Valérie Kaprisky) and as Dr. Eduardo Plarr, an Anglo working in a Latin American country, in John Mackenzie's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, The Honorary Consul (1983, a.k.a. Beyond the Limit, opposite Michael Caine). Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola also handed him the lead role of Michael 'Dixie' Dwyer in the multiple tales of the loves and lives of people who visited Harlem's legendary jazz joint, The Cotton Club (1984, with Gregory Hines and Diane Lane), and Bruce Beresford's later gave him the title role of Israel's king, King David (1985).
The rest of the 1980s saw Gere portraying an influential press consultant in Sidney Lumet's Power (1986), a single-minded cop in Richard Pearce's No Mercy (1986, alongside Kim Basinger) and playing Kevin Anderson's brother in Gary Sinise's Miles from Home (1988). Entering the 1990s, Gere made his commercial comeback with two starring roles, one in Mike Figgis' drama Internal Affairs (opposite Andy Garcia), and another in Garry Marshall’s blockbuster romantic hit Pretty Woman (opposite Julia Roberts).
Gere spent the next years executive-producing and starring in several films. He was seen in Phil Joanou's psychological thriller Final Analysis (1992, played a psychiatrist who falls in love with a patient's sister, costarring Kim Basinger), Jon Amiel's Sommersby (1993, as a much-changed, war-torn Confederate soldier, costarring Jodie Foster) and Mike Figgis' Mr. Jones (1993, played the title role of a manic depressive man who falls in love with his therapist (Lena Olin). He also earned an Emmy nomination for playing The Choreographer, a character loosely based on Broadway director-choreographer Michael Bennett, in the HBO movie And the Band Played On, inspired by the book by author Randy Shilts.
After acting in Intersection (1994) and First Knight (1995), Gere delivered a strong turn as slick, hotshot lawyer Martin Vail, who defends a former altar boy (Edward Norton) against allegations of murder, in Gregory Hoblit's adaptation of William Diehl's novel, Primal Fear (1996), and as a savvy entertainment lawyer who goes to China to broker a multi-million dollar television deal, in Jon Avnet's high-stakes thriller The Red Corner (1997, alongside Bai Ling). He also costarred with Bruce Willis, playing an imprisoned IRA sniper, in Michael Caton-Jones' remake of Kenneth Ross' earlier screenplay, The Jackal (1997), and reunited with Julia Roberts, playing a New York columnist who falls for his subject (Julia Roberts), in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy Runaway Bride (1999).
Entering the new millennium, Gere became an aging playboy, who falls for terminally ill Winona Ryder, in Joan Chen's romantic drama Autumn in New York, played the title role of a wealthy Dallas gynecologist in Robert Altman's comedy Dr T and the Women, and Diane Lane’s unsuspecting husband in Adrian Lyne's Unfaithful. He also won Golden Globe and SAG awards for portraying Chicago's slickest lawyer, Billy Flynn, in Rob Marshall's musical comedy based on Maurine Dallas Watkins' hit Broadway play and Bob Fosse's book, Chicago (2002, with Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones).
More recently, director Peter Chelsom hired Gere to star as bored, overworked Estate Lawyer John Clark in his romantic comedy film, based on Masayuki Suo's 1997 screenplay, Shall We Dance (2004, with Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon), and filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel offered him the role of Flora Cross' withdrawn father, and Juliette Binoche's husband, in the family drama film version of Myla Goldberg's novel, Bee Season (2005). Currently, Gere is filming his upcoming films: Lasse Hallström's drama The Hoax (as Clifford Irving, a bogus biographer of Howard Hughes) and Hong Kong director Wai Keung Lau's first American film, the crime action The Flock (as a hyper-vigilant federal agent tracking a missing girl abducted by a sex offender). He will also star in Todd Haynes' re-enactment of the life of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There: Suppositions on a Film Concerning Dylan (with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Adrien Brody, Colin Farrell, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Julianne Moore) and Gregory Hoblit's adventure drama film, based on the life of the late adventure photographer Bruno P. Zehnder, Emperor Zehnder (Gere will play the title role).
"It's the hairspray." Richard Gere (on the secret of his enduring popularity)