Richard Gere reveals why he's been shunned by Hollywood

Publish Date
Friday, 21 April 2017, 11:40AM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

He was once the golden boy of Hollywood starring in some of the biggest blockbusters of the 1980s and 1990 including the likes of Pretty Woman and An Officer And A Gentleman.

Yet, despite once being one of the most sought after leading men of his generation, Richard Gere has not made a big studio movie in nearly a decade.

The 67-year-old believes it his outspoken criticism of China and his Tibetan activism that has scared off the big studios, who are worried his casting could upset the superpower - which has quickly become the world's second-biggest box-office market.

'There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, "Not with him,"' he told the Hollywood Reporter. 'I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese.' 

The American Gigolo star was even banned from the Academy Awards in 1993, after he spoke out about China's occupation of Tibet and its 'horrendous, horrendous human rights situation' when he was invited to present the award for best art direction.

That did not stop him from becoming an outspoken critic of China's regime and Gere has gone onto create two foundations, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet and The Gere Foundation in New York. 

The Buddhist, who has a long standing friendship with the Dalai Lama, is banned for life from China.

Gere claims he was not bothered by the Academy ban, saying: 'I didn't have to put on a tuxedo again. I was fine with that.'

A few years after his Academy speech, Gere said he began to realize just how much impact that one night had on his career - as well as how much influence China had over the American studios.

In 1997, the actor was starring in thriller Red Corner as an American wrongfully accused of murder in China.

With filming complete, Gere was doing the press rounds when he got a call. MGM was axing the film.

'China told them, "If you release this film, we're not buying it." And so, they dumped it.'

Gere, who has never been nominated for an Oscar, admits the only time he was affected by the Academy's decision was when he missed a nomination for Chicago - which won him a Golden Globe.

He said everyone was in a hotel in Paris listening to the nominations on the radio.

'You could hear the "whoas". Like this one got nominated. "Whoa!" The next one. "Yay!" Then silence. There certainly was a moment there of "Oh."'

However, Gere's supposed exile from Hollywood has been surprisingly good for his career.

While his earlier blockbusters made him a wealthy man - divorce proceedings with his ex-wife Carey Lowell revealed an estimated $250 million fortune - the past decade has seen him carve out an interesting career within the indie movies market.

In fact, his leading roles in Sony Pictures Classics' Norman and The Orchard's The Dinner, have earned the star some of the best reviews of his life.

But his beef with China keeps coming back to bite him.

Gere recalled one independently financed movie, which was never planned to be released in China, where he was forced to pull out of because of his activism.

He described how the indie movie's Chinese director called him on a protected line and confessed that if he worked with Gere, the director and his family would never be able to leave China, and he would never work again. 

Gere says that even if Hollywood were to offer him a role in next summer's blockbuster, he would be unlikely to take it.

'I'm not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tentpole,' he said. 'I was successful enough in the last three decades that I can afford to do these [smaller films] now.

'The studios are interested in the possibility of making huge profits. But I'm still making the same films that I was making when I started. Small, interesting, character‑driven and narrative‑driven stories. It hasn't impacted my life at all.'

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.