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Richard Gere has convinced the world many times over that he can play any role. Be it a lawyer who may or may not have tap dancing skills, an officer who really knows how to be a gentleman, or a businessman with a heart of gold, he's played a wide variety of parts that have kept the world entertained and convinced of his prowess. Which is why it's all the more interesting that during his time filming Oren Moverman's recent film, Time Out Of Mind, Gere was convincing enough to be overlooked but not convincing enough to make a lot of money.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Gere recalled his time on the streets of New York, playing a homeless man going through an existential crisis. It was a shoot that required him to film sequences like the one he specifically mentions in his interview, which involved him sitting on a street corner for a good 45 minutes begging for change. While Gere seemed to blend in, he admits that this is one situation that this wasn't the best strategy, as he recalled the following experience:
No one paid me any attention. Some people put some money into my cup. They did not make eye contact. I think I made about two and a half dollars. I was very unsuccessful as a bum on the street.
There's an interesting asymmetrical quality to the fact that Gere, a man who's been paid as much as $15 million for starring in a film, couldn't make anything past $2.50 on the streets of New York. Considering the scenes he was shooting were right outside of a Starbucks, that would hardly pay for anything of substance for someone who's used to grabbing as much as they can when they're able. Though this fact is not lost on Richard Gere, as he came into the film with some outside expertise on the role that he was about to undertake.
Thanks to his work with New York's Coalition For The Homeless, Gere has accrued over a decade's worth of experience and information on the homeless community of New York, and to a certain degree that information has served him well. Looking at the film's trailer, it looks like whatever Gere lost in his begging prowess he gained in his ability to portray a homeless man as a person with just as much humanity as anyone else on the street. While he may not be as well off as anyone else, and he does seem to have some sort of mental illness hindering his interactions with the world, it's not played as the special case of this year's awards season.
While Richard Gere is a talented actor, his experience on the mean streets may indicate that he might be lacking in the negotiations department. Which means that we finally have an excuse for his performance in Movie 43 and even more reason to root for his character in Time Out Of Mind. We'll see if the film lives up to the hype when it gets a limited release on September 11th.