He keeps losing roles for speaking in support of the Tibetan religious leader
From 'American Gigolo' through 'Pretty Woman,' the actor was at the top of studio A-lists, but speaking up passionately in defense of Tibet has taken him down the indie road that has led to two new films and the best reviews of his career.
Hollywood, July 16.– When Richard Gere walked the red carpet at the Academy Awards in 1993, there was no way he could have known that the night would have repercussions for his career more than 20 years later. Invited to present the award for best art direction, he skipped the scripted patter to protest China's occupation of Tibet and its "horrendous, horrendous human rights situation." The late Gil Cates, the show's producer, was furious, calling the political speeches at that year's awards show —Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also went off script to speak on behalf of Haitian refugees — "distasteful and dishonest" and vowing to ban all three from future Oscars broadcasts.
Undaunted, Gere, a long-standing friend of Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, didn't stop speaking out. In 2008, he called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, and he continues to support the cause through his two foundations, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet and The Gere Foundation in New York. Not surprisingly, he has been banned for life from China.
But now that Hollywood is cozying up ever closer to the authoritarian superpower, and studios are careful not to offend the government that oversees what has become the world's second-biggest box-office market, the star also is paying a price.
"There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, 'Not with him,' " he acknowledges matter-of-factly. "I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese."
Despite the fact that Gere, now 67, was once one of the most sought-after leading men of his generation, he hasn't made a full-fledged studio movie in nearly a decade — not since 2008's Warner Bros./Village Roadshow romance Nights in Rodanthe. The film industry might pride itself on promoting free speech (this year's awards season offered a number of anti-Trump speeches that far eclipsed Gere's '93 criticism of the Chinese), but China remains Hollywood's third rail. At a time when there's no shortage of actors in their 60s — including Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson, Sylvester Stallone and even Mel Gibson — being courted for studio films, Gere must stick to indie fare ...
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