Richard Gere says critical reception of his role of hedge fund manager Robert Miller in the film “Arbitrage” was not even a factor when he decided to star in the film about a desperate New York businessman; nevertheless, the Oscar bees are buzzing.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has already nominated Gere for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his performance in the film, which is often indicative of a forthcoming Academy Award nomination. Oscar nominations will not be announced until January 10, but some critics are citing Gere’s performance as one of the best of his career.
If Gere does snag an Oscar nomination, it would be the first in the 63-year-old actors nearly 40-year career. Listen in as Richard Gere joins host Larry Mantle to talk about the movie’s unexpected critical praise, working with first-time director Nicholas Jarecki and more.
Richard Gere, actor currently seen in “Arbitrage”
On why Gere chose to do the film “Arbitrage”:
"It worked on so many different levels, it was a really good script all the way around. It was timely, it spoke to our era, this character was kind of those iconic zeitgeist characters that speak of the era and represent what we’re all going through. And it was a beautifully written script.”
On the challenge of playing the character Robert Miller:
“If you trust the storytelling, and it's just to be alive and awake in the process and give yourself fully to it. It was written with a lot of energy and a lot of drive, there's a ticking clock all the way through it. So I think to keep the freshness of it, keep clear of all the balls that are being juggled. I have to be aware of that all the time.”
On how Gere approached the challenges of each scene:
“That's just my job, at this point I don't have to think about it too much, that's just what I do. The hardest thing for me, frankly, was to keep clear were the injuries from the accident, and making sure all the way through the movie we were showing that in the right way. Not to dominate scenes, but to keep it on the right level. That was a little tricky.”
On the process as an actor:
“There's a lot of work that one does, its studying, its observing people, its knowing what the job is. But the human stuff is more emotional observation of other people as it resonates through my own emotions. It's being alive to the story and feeling trusting enough to bring my own personal background to it and my own emotions to it but also the kind of the collective emotions of us as human beings.”
On the duality Gere’s character exudes throughout the film:
“When we first started screening this I had friends of mine calling up really angry with me, who were rooting for this guy at the same time they knew he was such a scumbag. And I think part of my job is to present a human being. As we all know, once you meet people we can be appalled by them, but I think we recognize everyone is going through a human dilemma of some kind. We see ourselves in each other. And these characters are mirrors. That’s my job is to hold up a mirror to what it’s like to be a human being with all those faults and all of the joy too.”
On Gere’s previous knowledge and interest in the subject matter prior to the filming:
"No I didn't have any interest in it. My own finances were managed by someone who was extremely conservative, so I really didn't have any interface with this world at all. And I'm not a gambler, either, I don't have that kind of instinct. But I'm looking for human beings here, I'm looking for motivations. Where do people come from, what kind of people are that? I can't play a job description, there's no juice in it, but you can play emotional backgrounds, psychological backgrounds, what do people want, what is happiness to them and what are the tools available to them to achieve their version or their vision of happiness. and then you put them in a world of causes and conditions that rub up against them and force them. We have a lot of them in this movie, of situations, of causes and conditions that reveal this guy in a deeper way than he would ever know himself otherwise."
On how, nowadays, Gere chooses what type of film he wants to be involved in:
“Its harder and harder to find these kind of scripts that are based on characters, people, language, ideas that don’t rely on the kind of larger cartoony approaches, which I like a lot of those films too. But this is the type of film that of course actors love to make. Because its all about people talking to each other, behaving. The camera wants to see what you’re thinking, wants to be there when something is happening and to see how a human being reacts to something that is relatable to the world that we live in.”
On if this type of film facilitates Gere to get to a deeper place:
“I think there a magic to storytelling. The movie that Julia and I made, ‘Pretty Woman’ has talked to the whole planet. People were touched and moved by that. There was a certain magic in that movie. And I don’t discount that. And I don’t say that this is better because its more serious. And I can’t say that it’s more fun or more creative, it’s different. A movie like ‘Pretty Woman’ that does work and has some kind of mysterious primal thing going for it, I’m as delighted by that as I am by anything.”