15 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Gere

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Gere

Richard Gere is an actor and humanitarian who first rose to prominence in the 1970s with films such as Looking For Mr Goodbar (1977) and Days of Heaven (1978). He soon became an 80s heart throb thanks to his starring turn in American Gigolo (198), and female fans around the world fell in love with his performance as Zack, the US Navy Officer trainee in An Officer and A Gentleman (1982).

Since then he’s gone on to star in a number of hits and has also pursued humanitarian work in relation to his Buddhist religious beliefs. He’s a staunch advocate for human rights in Tibet and is an active supporter of the Dalai Lama. Gere publicly boycotted the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has previously apologised to the people of Iraq for his country’s part in the Middle Eastern conflict.

These days, he’s happily married to Spanish businesswoman Alejandra Silva. He was previously hitched to model and actress Carey Lowell – the ex-couple share a son, Homer, and a number of properties in the Hamptons area of New York.

However, Gere is probably best remembered for his 80s hey day as a hunky leading actor starring opposite bombshells such as Kim Basinger and Debra Winger. We bring you a list of 15 things you didn’t know about Richard Gere (and no, we’re not going to mention that infamous gerbil rumour!).

1. He has fans in the jungles of Borneo

That’s right, Richard’s 80s heart throb status extended all the way to the remote jungles of Borneo. There are still large areas of the island which have never been charted, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some fans of his lurking in the area!

The actor once revealed on The Graham Norton Show that he travelled to Borneo in order to visit the Dayak tribe. He was dropped out of the plane into a desolate part of the jungle to be greeted by a group of tribesmen, some of whom instantly started exclaiming “Officer, gentleman!” when they realised who it was!

2.  His middle name is Tiffany

Fans might be surprised to learn that Gere’s middle name is the rather feminine-sounding Tiffany. However, his parents weren’t confused about his gender, and in fact the name Tiffany is his mother’s maiden name.

3. He’s an accomplished pianist

Gere is an accomplished musician who has grown up learning to play the piano and trumpet. He is also a talented songwriter – he composed and performed the piano solo featured in Pretty Woman (1990) himself. He also put his musical skills to good use once again in Runaway Bride (1999), another Julia Roberts flick. Remember the scene where he plays his guitar alongside the locals as Maggie is driving past? That’s another one of his own songs that he’s playing!

4. He was once banned from the Oscars

Richard has been a committed Buddhist for much of his adult life, and was once banned from the Oscars after making anti-China comments live on air during the 1993 awards ceremony.

Despite his criticism, the Chinese government invited him to one of its film festivals. However, he only agreed to go on two conditions: that he be allowed to bring his own interpreter and that he would also stay in Taipei, Taiwan for the duration of his visit. The Chinese government agreed to his demands and he has since reappeared at the Oscars.

5. He could have been Gordon Gekko on Wall Street 

Like many famous actors, Richard Gere has turned down a number of film roles over the course of his career. For example, did you know that he turned down the lead role in Die Hard (1988), which later went to Bruce Willis? However, there’s only one part that Gere truly regrets turning down, and that was the role of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987), a character that Michael Douglas famously made his own.

6. He hated Debra Winger

Despite viewers falling in love with their chemistry in An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), Gere and Debra Winger couldn’t stand each other.
She publicly called him a “brickwall”, while he said there was “tension” between them. Although Gere was the main star and Winger was essentially supposed to be just a love interest, it soon became clear that she was stealing every scene and ended up being nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Thirty years later they patched things up at the Rome Film Festival so there’s no longer any bad blood between them!

7. He was second choice behind John Travolta for most of the 80s

How different would American Gigolo have been if John Travolta played the leading part instead?! That’s exactly what could have happened in the 80s though. In fact, in the three films that made Gere a Hollywood megastar – Days of Heaven (1978), American Gigolo (1980) and An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) – his roles had all been turned down by Travolta.
Funnily enough, Gere’s big acting break came in 1973 when he played Danny Zuko in the British stage version of Grease, a part that Travolta went on to play on the big screen!

8. He’s family friends with the Thurmans

Gere is a firm friend of the Thurman family. He founded New York City’s Tibet house with Robert Thurman, a foundation which is devoted to preserving the living culture of Tibet. He is also friends with actress Uma Thurman after the two appeared alongside each other in Final Analysis (1992).

9. He helped launch one of his childhood friends to stardom

Richard Gere’s earliest head shots were taken by his childhood friend Herb Ritts, a photographer who was struggling to make ends meet at the time. However, Gere’s agents were so impressed with the photos that they began hiring Ritts for other assignments and he ended up becoming a famous fashion photographer.

10. He’s not actually a vegetarian

Many people erroneously believe that Richard Gere is a vegetarian, but apparently that’s not the case. During an appearance on Live! With Kelly (1988) in 2007, Gere stated that he is not a veggie but hasn’t eaten red meat for over 30 years.

11. His family are descendants of the Mayflower 

Gere can trace his lineage back to the Pilgrims who arrived in America onboard the Mayflower in 1620. He has firm family roots in Pennsylvania, and also possesses a mixture of English, Welsh, Dutch, Scottish and French ancestry.

12. He became a father for the first time at 50 years old

Richard’s first child came into the world when he was already 50 years old. In 2000, his then-girlfriend (and later wife) Carey Lowell gave birth to their son Homer James Jigme Gere on February 6th. The exotic-sounding name “Jigme” means “fearless” in Tibetan.

13. He’s been accused of engaging in some very high-profile affairs

Gere was one good-looking man back in the day, and as a result he was linked to a string of high-profile actresses. In fact, he was accused of having affairs with both Priscilla Presley and Kim Basinger in the 80s and 90s. Presley’s ex-boyfriend Michael Edwards penned a tell-all book which alleged that Priscilla was unfaithful, whilst Basinger’s ex-husband Ron Snyder made similar allegations.

14. He owns an inn in Massachussetts

That’s right, if you’re ever in New York state, keep an eye out for the Bedford Post Inn in Bedford, NY. Gere co-owns the inn with his wife Carey Lowell. It features eight rooms, two restaurants, a yoga studio and even a meditation centre for any of Gere’s fellow Buddhists out there. Nice!

15. He was a guest at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

Gere rubs shoulders with a lot of famous friends, and amongst them is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars – movie legend Tom Cruise. The pair are so close that Gere attended Cruise’s ill-fated wedding to fellow actress Katie Holmes in 2006.