Richard Gere


Best known for his roles in movies including An Officer and a Gentleman, Pretty Woman and First Knight, Richard Gere began acting at the University of Massachusetts, where he was a philosophy major. We caught up with him as his latest movie, The Mothman Prophecies goes on general release...

Sci-Fi Online: You haven't made a supernatural thriller before, is that why you wanted to do this?

Richard Gere: No, it was the script itself. I didn't say, "I want to make a scary movie". The script came and I could see the possibilities, although it went through a lot of drafts to find the balance between a scary movie and a smart movie.

SFO: What was it about the script that attract you to the role?

RG: The emotional stuff was rich. In the beginning, my character's in the perfect job, he has a beautiful wife, they're talking about babies, they're buying a house, everything's great and then literally in the middle of laughing, there's a car accident and she's gone. Now if you put that on top of the metaphysical story of "Is there anything out there?", then you have something that has a lot of power.

SFO: You wanted to avoid the clichés of the genres, is that why we don't see the mothman?

RG: That's the B-movie version of this. The assumption is that this is a metaphysical story, not a ghost story, meaning that we're making the adult's thinking version. So the trick and brilliance of director Mark Pellington was finding a visual vocabulary that would suggest a presence and give you the kind of chilling feeling that was much deeper and larger than "Don't open that door!".

This was more like a dream and dreams aren't usually "There's something behind the door", they're more a feeling that seems to take over everything.

SFO: You normally play characters who are in control but your character in this, John Klein, thinks he's going mad...

RG: I don't think the people I play are in control. I think the characters always strive for control and it's the fact that they can't have it that makes drama. They have the illusion of control but the universe never gives any of us control, otherwise there'd be no drama at all.

You know, people think they're on balance, life puts them off-balance and they have to find some way to re-establish balance.

SFO: Since the success of The Sixth Sense there seem to be more and more movies with supernatural themes, why are we so fascinated by it?

RG: I don't think it ever goes away. It's part of our collective unconscious, whether we're tribal people or we're urban people. I think it's genetically-coded in us and, in a way, that belief is more powerful in urban people who are continually having it cut out of their lives. So that need to express it is always there.

SFO: What's your favourite scary movie?

RG: Well the scariest movie I ever saw had no ghost in it and that was The Servant. It was a Joseph Losey film from a Harold Pinter screenplay and it was the same kind of terror that Mothman deals with: it calls into question the nature of identity. I think that's scary to everyone.

SFO: Do you believe in psychic phenomena and have you had any personal experience of ghosts?

RG: I have no interest at all in that, although if someone came up with the Loch Ness Monster I'd be interested. As for ghosts, there's been nothing that shook me to my marrow.

SFO: Your co-star is Laura Linney, who you worked with on 1996's Primal Fear when she was still unknown, was it fun working with her again?

RG: I was delighted that she agreed to do the film because she helps elevate it to the right level. We're very good friends and now, after You Can Count On Me, everyone realises how good she is. I like the collaborative process. I like people working together and what the project says and does is equally important to me as what I do. The satisfying thing about doing this movie was working with all these extremely talented, hyper-creative people who were also very trusting and open, which was important because this had to come together quickly; we didn't have six weeks of rehearsal time.

SFO: When you were a teenager, did you think that at 52 you'd be a major star?

RG: Oh, I never saw past probably 25. How can you project that far ahead? I had no idea. I mean, it's like asking a rock star if they think they'll still be prancing around at 55. It's like no, you think you're going to be dead at 26.

SFO: Thank you for your time.

With thanks to Laura Norton at Way To Blue

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