If we look at the most recent filmography of Richard Gere It is impossible to find a blockbuster. Although his face is burned into our collective memory thanks to films like Pretty Woman, Officer and Gentleman, The Two Faces of Truth, Unfaithful O Chicago, the truth is that it has been one of the outsiders of an industry watching you out of the corner of its eye.
He does not do blockbusters, he does not participate in large budget productions, he is not part of blockbuster sagas or he has succumbed to the temptation to sign for Star Wars, Marvel and company. The reason? As he himself has confessed to the world, a part of Hollywood doesn’t want him in their movies and he doesn’t want to be in them either.
Considering that it still sets trends every time they broadcast Pretty Woman on television, who is still active through more independent films and series, and who was one of the eternal gallants of modern cinema chosen as the sexiest man in the world by People magazine at 50 years old (he is already 71), surely more than one may be wondering … why the exile?
To better understand his disappearance from the Hollywood major leagues we must go back to 1993, specifically March 29. It was the day that Richard used his moment presenting the Oscar for best artistic direction to appeal to the Chinese government asking it to withdraw its troops from Tibet, referring to “The horrible human rights situation”That you live there. No one knew he was going to do it, not even the director of the ceremony. And while his nearly two-minute speech was greeted with applause, no one imagined that it would be the beginning of the end for his ties to the top of Hollywood.
Since then he has been prohibited from entering any Academy Award (Independent, 2007), he has never been nominated for an Oscar, and although he does not seem to care much, it did hurt him that he was not nominated for Chicago (He confessed it himself a few years ago). And while it is true that we have seen dozens of political and activist speeches at the most important film awards, especially in recent years and without anyone being vetoed, Richard Gere’s case would be more related to protecting the economic relations of the Hollywood industry with the all-powerful Chinese box office. Or at least he thinks so.
Gere maintains a very close relationship with Tibet since he discovered the place and Tibetan Buddhism during a trip to Nepal in 1978, when he had already started his path as an actor after abandoning a career in philosophy. He is a close friend of the Dalai Lama and in 2007 he said that from a very young age he had existential questions about the nature of being, and found his way to the answers in Buddhism.
But returning to exile … Despite the veto of the Academy, he continued his protests calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and giving dozens of statements about the political situation that Tibet is experiencing over time. In addition, he co-founded a non-profit organization called Tibet House US to preserve Tibetan culture and is on the board of directors of the International Campaign for Tibet, another organization that promotes the democratic freedoms of Tibetans. Even as he publicly supports the Tibetan independence movement, he is banned from China for life.
In this way, Richard Gere would pose too high a risk for the Hollywood super productions that need the Chinese market. For starters, China is one of Hollywood’s most effective lifeguards. When a film does not quite work in the domestic market, as it happened to Transformers: The Last Knight in 2017 with a debut of $ 69 million, the Chinese market doubled it with $ 123 million. While the first quarter of 2018 showed that it could surpass the American box office being the largest market in the world at that time. However, Chinese restrictions only allow 34 foreign feature films a year, making Hollywood take maximum care of its relations with the country and have promoted co-production agreements (if a film is co-financed with China it does not count as foreign, as long as it has a third of Chinese actors in the lead roles and pass the censorship requirements, World101).
“There are definitely movies that I can’t appear in because China would say ‘no with him'” Richard Gere said in 2017 to The Hollywood Reporter. “I recently had an episode where someone said they couldn’t finance a movie with me because it would anger the Chinese. ” added as an anecdote. What’s more, Gere said that he planned to do a project with a Chinese director “and two weeks before he started shooting, he called him saying, ‘sorry, I can’t do it.’ in a telephone conversation they had on a protected line. “If he had worked with this director, he and his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again and he would never work again.”.
And as evidence of his reality in the industry by positioning himself as a defender of Tibet and, therefore, an enemy of China, we go back to his filmography, where we not only see that Stormy nights It was his last studio production (Warner Bros. / Village Roadshow), but we also found the movie that sentenced his fate. It was the thriller The red maze (1997) where he played a businessman mistakenly accused of murder in China. “Everyone was happy with the movie”Gere recounted ten years later. He reveals that he was called by the heads of the studio, who gave interviews on shows like Oprah and all of a sudden they told him they didn’t want him to do any more press. “MGM wanted to close an agreement with the Chinese and China told them ‘if you release those films, we will not buy’. And so, they dismissed it “. The red maze It ended up going through the international box office without pain or glory, with lukewarm reviews and a gross gross of just $ 22 million in domestic territory (there are not even international figures).
I mean, this man who was one of the favorite romantic heroes of a whole generation of moviegoers. would have experienced exile from the upper echelons of the industry for representing an economic threat to alliances with the Chinese market. But this reality has not caused him to stop working or withdraw from the industry. He simply opted for other avenues, becoming a recurring figure among lower-budget dramas. Where, everything must be said, he has even displayed some of his best interpretations, as we saw in Norman: the man who got it all (2016).
“I’m not interested in playing the wise Jedi in your blockbuster”Says to the studios. “I was successful enough the last three decades to allow me to make minor films now.”. And it is that if we pull the newspaper library we will find that during his arduous divorce from his second wife it was said that his fortune was estimated at $ 250 million (RadarOnline), as well as that he charged $ 15 million for movies like Unfaithful (iMDB). I mean, you don’t need blockbusters.
And he continues, enjoying his second life as the father of the two little ones he had in recent years with the Spanish Alejandra Silva, and working when he finds a project that he is passionate about. In the last five years we hardly saw him in Norman: The Man Who Got It All, Dinner and Three Christs, films in which it was delivered 100% but with a worldwide gross that did not exceed $ 10 million altogether. We saw his last work in 2019 when he participated in MotherFatherSon, a BBC series that went unnoticed by the general public and the wide range of streaming content. In Spain it can be seen on StarzPlay.
“The studios are interested in the possibility of making big profits. But I keep making the same movies that I did when I started. Small, interesting stories, focused on the character and the narrative. This has not impacted my life at all” it ended in 2017. A reality that has not changed since then. In June 2020, Richard testified in the US Senate in front of a subcommittee dedicated to evaluating the impact of Chinese censorship on US economic interests. At that time, he said that “The combination of Chinese censorship coupled with the desire of American film studios to access the Chinese market can lead to self-censorship and overlook social problems that great American films once addressed“, Adding that people from the Chinese industry have assured him that they cannot work with him because it would end their careers (savetibet.org).
However, Richard is not alone. In August of last year, the organization PEN America published a 94-page analysis that put studios in the limelight detailing which companies were making decisions – cast, plot, settings or dialogue- “relying on the effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials”.
Still, Richard Gere’s humanitarian work goes much further than Tibet. She has promoted campaigns and founded foundations for AIDS awareness in India, supported the creation of care centers for infected women and children, while also taking part in environmental campaigns. His friend Susan Sarandon applauds his “courage” while Diane Lane defines him as “a simple soul” with whom he learned to meditate from a very young age on the sets of his films. And in the meantime he keeps working when he wants to. It will not be in blockbusters but it does not need to.
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The reasons for the disappearance of Richard Gere in Hollywood