The Metamorphosis of Richard Gere

Guest Blog: A mature, more reserved, yet, enfin, handsome actor has emerged since the days Richard and I worked together in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” 

(Spoiler alert: Don’t read this article if you don’t want to know some key plot points from “Arbitrage.”)

Richard Gere sashays through “Arbitrage” in quite a subdued performance compared to his acting in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

Still, his swagger is there — and certainly his sexuality. But a mature, more reserved, yet, enfin, handsome actor has emerged since the days Richard and I worked together in “Goodbar.” Age embraces him. His moves are languid. His eyes blink and twitch at all the right moments and encapsulate an energy moving throughout his body that finally bursts into his mind.

When we were on the set of “Goodbar” in '77, he took me to lunch. We talked like kids in a playground because we hadn't seen each other since the early seventies in Wyn Handman's acting class above a Chinese laundry in Manhattan. Wyn was the Director of The American Place Theatre. In that class, Richard was wiry in his performances and reminiscent of James Dean. He caught a lot of flack for that, yet a bit of Jimmy Dean's mannerisms are still apparent in “Goodbar.”

These mannerisms eased out of his body in “American Gigolo.” In “Arbitrage” his movements have become fluid and cerebral. There is a glimpse of the old Richard when he discovers that his mistress is dead. He has accidentally murdered her after falling asleep at the wheel. His reaction is on the money and hyperkinetic like the ole Richard of yore. 

Then there was Gere's performance on Broadway in “Bent” when his body was so much a part of his acting. But in “Arbitrage,” save for the car crash, all of that frenzy of the past has become fluid restrained movement with a kind of grace and elegance. He takes his moments and makes mountains out of some and quick flashes of others, but one thing is certain: He is the center of your attention. His white hair gives him an elder statesman quality and air.

One wonders why we don't see more of him at the movies. He said recently on a talk show that he was 63 and was surprised to be working at this age while the women in the audience swooned and simply could not get enough of him. Let's hope we don't have to wait another long extended pause for his next film.

Oscar talk accompanies his performance, but talk is talk. See for yourself. Catch his electrifying performance in “Arbitrage.” He makes going to the movies a real treat and a reason to venture out into a dark movie theater and risk being assaulted by mediocrity — or entertained by the multitalented Richard Gere.