Hollywood Legend Richard Gere Doesn’t Have A Secret Recipe For Success

What is Richard Gere’s recipe for success? Well, he doesn’t have one.

“I’ve just bumbled through it somehow, but I never thought that far ahead,” he mused as we discussed his new romantic comedy, Maybe I Do. “I just wanted to work on things that interested me and do that with people who I thought were talented. It’s simply that.”

The ensemble piece is a great example, showcasing his talent alongside Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and William H. Macy. It also stars Emma Roberts, the niece of Gere’s Pretty Woman co-star, Julia Roberts.

I caught up with him to talk about the movie, why this movie made him want to work again, and why planning ahead is rare for him.

Simon Thompson: I was surprised about how much of a refreshing and honest take this movie has on relationships, especially among older people.

Richard Gere: I’ve done a few films with real charm and lightness to them, but that’s not usually what I gravitate to. Coming out of Covid, when I didn’t work at all and didn’t want to, this script appeared. It seemed to have these elements that were worth exploring for young people and someone who has been through many marriages. How do you have an honest relationship with your partner, and how do you mix that with your own personal explorations of what a meaningful life is? How do those come together? Do they ever come together? All these characters have seen a lot, and they’ve done a lot, so it’s not like they lack experience.

Thompson: It’s interesting to hear you say you didn’t want to work.

Gere: It was the protocols, man. It was just too much. You couldn’t see anyone and couldn’t rehearse; it was all crazy. There were several films that I had been offered, and I was going to do but I realized what the protocols were. Also, shooting in Canada, once you got into Canada, you couldn’t leave. You couldn’t go back and see your family because it was two weeks of isolation every time you crossed the border, so I just stayed home with my family and my kids.

Thompson: It’s an incredible ensemble cast here.

Gere: You go into this knowing that it’s an ensemble piece. It’s not about any one character. It’s about the four characters plus the two younger people, and you want to have partners in that process who know what they’re doing and hope that you can get along with them well. I think all four of us were really careful about who was going to play the other parts. I don’t remember how that alchemy came together, but I know at one point I said, ‘I’m only going to do it if such and such is going to be in the movie,’ and I think probably everyone else was the same way. It had to be of a certain level and skill set that we could do this on a small budget and a short schedule, still surprise each other and try things; we could work quickly, and we could be inventive. I also really liked the writer and director, Michael Jacobs, a lot.

Thompson: It’s that chemistry that makes this work. There are moments between yourself and Diane Keaton, especially where it feels organic and genuine. Was that where you got to try things?

Gere: Most of it, even as much as 99 percent, was written. You have to invent something sometimes; something happens, or what was written doesn’t work, so you play. I think we all had a sense of play but were very much directed by Michael, who is a very funny guy. He’s extremely verbal, extremely quick, he’s got the jokes and knows how to deliver his own, so I was looking to him if I needed clarification about how to make something work. I’d asked him, ‘How do I read this?’ and he says, ‘Like this,’ and I’d get the rhythm so I can play with it. That very much came from Michael. At the same time, you’re dealing with four racehorses equally capable of winning the race. We all brought a lot to it.

Thompson: Emma Roberts in this, and you worked with her aunt, Julia, in Pretty Woman. For better or worse, Richard, you can’t think Richard Gere without thinking Pretty Woman. How was working with Emma because this is the first time you have done something together. Did you discuss the connection?

Gere: Yeah, and there was a certain delight about having continuity in that way. In a way, it’s like Julia being my daughter, so it was built in, and we acknowledge that in the very beginning, but we were doing our best to tell the story.

Thompson: A lot of people think being an actor is just about being an actor, but a key part of longevity is understanding the business side of things. What is your special sauce when navigating that side of the industry?

Gere: I have no idea. I’ve just bumbled through it somehow, but I never thought that far ahead. I wanted to work on things that interested me and do that with people who I thought were talented. It’s simply that. There have been times when maybe I did too many things that were simply that. They were interesting to me but weren’t interesting to anybody else (laughs), and my place in the pecking order of the business was lower than I would want it to be. A couple of times, I might have done some things that brought me back into the business. Ironically, they were two of my best movies; An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman. You work on them and make them the best you can, but there are no guarantees anywhere, and I’ve rarely done anything that was a deliberate business choice. That’s just not the way I function.

Thompson: Looking to the future and bearing that in mind, do you have a list of people or projects you would like to pursue?

Gere: Honestly, there are so many that I’ve worked with before that I’d love to work with again. Oren Moverman and I are very close. With him as a director, writer, and producer, he and I have made five movies together. He’s like my brother. There are a lot of talented people; some have been around a long time and have had hit-and-miss careers, and there are new people that you’re never quite sure about because they have one interesting thing, but you don’t know if it was a fluke. You also have people who have done genius things but are in their 80s now, and you wonder, ‘Can they still do it?’ To tell you the truth, I’m more focused on my two and three-year-old kids than anything else.

Maybe I Do lands in theaters on Friday, January 27, 2023

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