Richard Gere has played very convincing roles in front of a camera. The world has witnessed how he nailed the role of a lawyer (with or without the tap-dancing skills), a gentleman officer, or a good-hearted businessman. The man undeniably has so much experience in his arsenal as an actor.
But that is also what makes it very intriguing that Gere failed to go home with some dollars when he sat on the street, acting like a real beggar and waited for people to notice him, during the filming of the recent movie Time Out of Mind, directed by Oren Moverman. He was convincing enough as a typical street-dweller that people just overlooked at him, not recognizing the famous actor, but he was obviously not your kind of poor homeless dude on the street looking for a few dollars.
Richard Gere shared in an interview his experience when he was on the busy streets of New York, playing the role of a homeless man going through a crisis. An opportunity to play the role in real life as it involved Gere sitting on the corner of a street begging for change.
Gere admitted that the situation he went through was not the best strategy as he seemed to blend in. He recalled the following experience as he lived in the street with random busy people:
“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.”
The fact that Gere, who is paid as much as $15 million for playing a role in a film, could not make more than $2.50 on the New York streets serves as an interesting asymmetrical quality. He was sitting outside a Starbucks cafe, and it’s a place filled with people who basically get everything they want whenever they’re able to, so it was harder for Gere to convince someone to drop a few pennies. The fact was not lost on Richard Gere, though, as he undertook a role which he has some outside expertise about.
Gere has gained a whole lifetime’s worth of experience on the homeless community of New York because of his work with the Coalition for the Homeless, and all this worked on his advantage when he played the role for Time Out of Mind.
It seemed like whatever Gere lost in his begging ability, he covered it up with his ability to portray a homeless man giving off the same aura and humility as anyone else on the street. But although Gere’s character does seem to have a mental illness hindering his contacts with the world and is someone who is so poor that he can’t afford a bag of chips, the role didn’t quite make the mark on bagging a spot at the list of awardees this year.