Five Favorite Films

Richard Gere's Five Favorite Films

The Star of Norman discusses why he wouldn't have cast himself in the title role, his love of Sunrise, and New York living.

by | April 12, 2017 | Comments

Richard Gere (Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

(Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Richard Gere admits he wouldn’t have thought to cast himself in Norman aka Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer — which opens Friday in limited release. Yet critics are hailing the role as one of his strongest, most likable performances, right alongside his work in Pretty WomanDays of Heaven, and Primal Fear. It’s really no wonder the versatile actor chose two of his own movies — his first and his latest — as part of his Five Favorite Films; they are landmarks not only in his acting career, but in his personal life. See the full list below:

Days of Heaven (1978) 93%

OK, so, I’m gonna start with my first film, Days of Heaven, because it’s my first film. It’s probably, unfortunately, my best film. It’s very hard to follow up on a film like that.

Why do you say that?

It was the first film that Terry Malick made that kind of became Terry Malick in that movie. It also was the first film of mine at the Cannes Film Festival. So, everything about that film kind of was important to me as an actor and as a person.

Life changing.

Absolutely.

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (2016) 87%

And the second one is my last film — so 50-something films later — is Norman. Norman is probably the least obvious casting choice of me one could ever make. I think because of that it ended up being such a terrific experience. Sort of completely working in another territory.

It’s one of my favorites of your performances — despite the fact that it reminds me so much of my family. I didn’t even realize how Jewish it would be. It was so authentic. I was like, “Maybe he is Jewish.”

You know, when I first started, some woman came up to me — I remember this very clearly — and saying, “Your name is really Gara, isn’t it?” And I said, “No.” And she winked at me and said, “I know you’re Hungarian.” Then I went through a period where everyone thought I was Italian. So, now, clearly, I’m Jewish.

That’s the sign of a brilliant actor. Plus, this movie just keeps you thinking. I’m still thinking about it.

We had a screening last night. [Writer-director] Joseph Cedar and I’ve been doing Q&As after. They’re always fun. People are just kind of flipped out by it. And it does continue. I have a feeling it’s the kind of movie that the dinner conversations are interesting.

Babette's Feast (1987) 97%

I actually just talked to Joseph about this last night, one of my all-time favorites is Babette’s Feast. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why. It’s very pure. It’s not tricky at all; the filmmaking is almost invisible. I think for the most part, it feels like there are non-actors in the piece — although I’m sure they’re actors — but it’s not an actor-y piece at all. It’s just beautifully conceived with a really generous heart at its center. It just really moves me, I saw it again last week.

And it holds up.

It does; it’s the purity and the simplicity of it. And the sentiment of community and excellence. The idea of excellence and generosity as real things. Something, obviously, that’s in danger these days. The idea of truth and excellence and compassion. And kind of a willingness to accept the other. Forgive. So I think it’s a really deep, timeless film.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) 99%

What else comes to my mind? Bicycle Thieves was always one I loved, too. Again, deeply moving, operatic Italian story. Impossible to see the film and not weep. The simple life of people just trying to get through the day in very hard times. High unemployment after the second world war — a bicycle is the ticket out of unemployment and poverty. That’s a film that also still works. I see it every couple years. I look at that again.

Sunrise (1927) 98%

One more. How about another film that Joseph and I were talking about last night, which is a wonderful film: Sunrise by Murnau. It’s a silent movie — I think it’s from 1927, something like that. And it’s one of the most beautifully shot movies you’ll ever, ever see. Just the pinnacle of silent film art photography. Deep emotions of, again, almost operatic story. There’s a lot of nature in it, there’s a lot of water, fire, sunrises, and sunsets that are connected to the story. Human emotions and consciousness and yearnings and failings and karma. It comes from a short story, and a very beautiful film.

It won the first Cinematography Oscar.

Is that true? Well it’s worth it. If you ever see that film, it’s a “wow” experience.


Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: How did you end up working with Joseph Cedar on Norman

Richard Gere: We met through Oren Movermen. I knew Oren because he co-wrote I’m Not There with Todd Haynes, the Bob Dylan movie. He and I became good friends. We were at an Academy cocktail party for new members. I was asked to come and talk to the new members in New York, and they were both there together. Oren introduced me to Joseph and asked if I knew his work, and I hadn’t known Beaufort. It was a terrific Israeli film that he had made. So it just started the dialogue. I said, “If you ever want to do anything in the Middle East, and I’m right for it, give me a call.” So. That’s how that happened.

RT: Were you worried about it, scared of it?

Gere: No, I wasn’t. I was kind of perplexed and bemused, and my first question to him was, “Why me?” And I said, “Look, as a director and as a producer, I wouldn’t cast myself in that.” He didn’t want the usual with this. He wanted someone who’s gonna bring — I mean, what he has told me, who knows what he really wanted — I think he wanted to avoid the clichés of a Woody Allen approach to it. So we didn’t have a lot of time; we had eight or nine months to work on this before we started shooting.

RT: How did you prep for it?

Gere: Living in New York since I was 20. The best preparation. 47 years of having Normans around me all the time.

RT: It would be so easy for him to turn into an unpleasant character, but you made him so endearing.

Gere: I think there was a quality to him — and I didn’t realize it — we did talk about it a bit when I was trying to get a sense of where Joseph was coming from with this, and I at one point said, “Let’s think about the pulls, of what this could be.” It could be Woody Allen — he doesn’t want Woody Allen. And I said “Well, the other pull was Charlie Chaplin.” And he said, “If it has to go anywhere, it would go in that direction.”

And there is a kind of sad, sad quality about him. We never see his home. The film almost — although there’s an almost nonstop dialogue — the film actually works as a silent film. There are sections of the film that are completely silent. There’s the whole dumbshow when Norman and Eshel meet outside of the shoe store. Where he cuts out the dialogue and we just see it as a physicality.

RT: I loved that.

Gere: Yeah me too, it takes a really brave director to do that. The camera doesn’t move. There’s a soundtrack that kind of identifies the quirky circus quality of the movie, and forms that. But we just kind of see the physicality of the two people getting to know each other.

RT: And was that scripted?

Gere: It was partly scripted as dialogue — and we shot it as dialogue — but with the intention that he may pull it out, he’d have to look at it. Now I think he did a couple of different cuts, with the dialogue and without it. And it was way more interesting without it.

RT: It was fascinating, because we are trying to figure out how you were going to do this — how you were going to get him in your pocket.

Gere: Yeah, and it actually worked with the dialogue too. It was just so much more interesting without. And without the camera moving; no cuts. It’s a long sequence — it’s about a minute and a half, two minutes.


Norman opens on Friday, Apr. 14, 2017, in limited release.

Tag Cloud

Adult Swim Quiz mutant sports Drama emmy awards CNN binge versus game of thrones Summer Musicals Walt Disney Pictures stoner TCA Winter 2020 94th Oscars posters Holiday 1990s Red Carpet Exclusive Video technology spider-verse basketball Shondaland ABC 71st Emmy Awards Star Trek spanish language comedies Reality Competition Music gangster james bond NBC Best Actress GLAAD cartoon scorecard APB dexter sitcom cancelled Avengers theme song TCA IFC Awards Tour kids ABC Signature Calendar 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Best Director Apple feel good streamig festival HBO Max Film festivals renewed TV shows golden globes Masterpiece Polls and Games unscripted wonder woman Hallmark Marvel Television Martial Arts movie Pop documentaries USA Network American Society of Cinematographers hispanic ID TV Land die hard Britbox Disney Plus SundanceTV australia trailers talk show Fargo Winners batman child's play 45 japanese YouTube adenture Comedy Central psycho dark Creative Arts Emmys Winter TV nbcuniversal President screenings cults E! The Walking Dead dceu Epix witnail Grammys black critics high school Mystery Thanksgiving WGN scary movies Rocketman WarnerMedia anthology Dark Horse Comics crime drama documentary Paramount Pictures Musical YouTube Premium 007 strong female leads 20th Century Fox spinoff tv talk Superheroes 2019 worst legend Comics on TV blockbuster casting cops Universal a nightmare on elm street zombie Sundance Now Podcast 79th Golden Globes Awards TIFF summer TV 2015 Wes Anderson trophy live action Best and Worst Tumblr Country E3 disaster miniseries news Ovation Cannes directors dreamworks CMT south america mockumentary king arthur CW Seed Pirates debate 93rd Oscars BBC America Fantasy Best Picture Amazon Prime Lionsgate scary discovery First Look zombies reviews Christmas psychological thriller Trailer Turner 2021 Emmy Nominations Lifetime joker thriller justice league Valentine's Day Writers Guild of America werewolf San Diego Comic-Con new star wars movies book 73rd Emmy Awards Columbia Pictures cinemax cats VOD Nickelodeon romance target halloween tv Toys Tokyo Olympics movies TV movies New York Comic Con crime YouTube Red TNT sequel CBS All Access Crackle biography Amazon Studios Sony Pictures dc comic book movies based on movie Schedule blockbusters Sundance TV award winner prank free movies Black Mirror medical drama Paramount Infographic The CW ghosts Cosplay Alien facebook streaming docudrama children's TV Awards olympics Box Office SXSW hist Holidays sopranos archives breaking bad italian football Warner Bros. laika indie Emmys Song of Ice and Fire Disney streaming service Comedy Marvel Arrowverse adaptation Mary Tyler Moore transformers razzies art house Election 2020 OWN composers Set visit Classic Film historical drama Rocky rt labs critics edition BET Awards ratings Crunchyroll LGBT serial killer Pride Month worst movies Legendary comic Pet Sematary telelvision The Academy rt labs Tarantino Ellie Kemper pirates of the caribbean 24 frames See It Skip It doctor who 99% Spectrum Originals SXSW 2022 Instagram Live mission: impossible spanish Fox News comic books social media Western Photos RT History kong cancelled television nfl Neflix french Television Academy Pop TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt hidden camera History First Reviews stop motion franchise obituary FX AMC ABC Family animated Binge Guide FX on Hulu fresh new york 2017 FXX Amazon Rom-Com Amazon Prime Video TV renewals king kong harry potter video on demand crossover Prime Video series comiccon science fiction TBS independent superman Animation natural history Action Bravo marvel cinematic universe twilight 4/20 Tags: Comedy Disney Netflix boxing Sundance chucky television Academy Awards vs. game show canceled TV shows scene in color National Geographic Watching Series cars Biopics Ghostbusters Endgame sag awards FOX DC Universe Super Bowl rotten movies we love cooking marvel comics Vudu foreign docuseries travel AMC Plus superhero Premiere Dates Teen Focus Features parents BBC One DC Comics lord of the rings comic book movie women adventure supernatural TCA Awards indiana jones leaderboard Syfy MGM Hollywood Foreign Press Association Women's History Month ITV Oscars period drama nature Peacock X-Men TV MTV concert DC streaming service revenge Netflix Christmas movies ESPN Disney+ Disney Plus Turner Classic Movies Superheroe police drama remakes Certified Fresh 2018 Hallmark Christmas movies USA PaleyFest aliens ViacomCBS spain political drama Food Network The Purge HBO El Rey aapi action-comedy video Paramount Network Marathons LGBTQ Freeform suspense mcc kaiju Countdown Nominations Paramount Plus universal monsters name the review all-time Brie Larson finale A24 space canceled GoT YA black comedy robots 21st Century Fox saw VH1 Elton John Funimation elevated horror BET BAFTA Trophy Talk TruTV NBA Showtime Captain marvel true crime Black History Month streaming movies broadcast Disney Channel classics Horror Apple TV+ Apple TV Plus boxoffice Discovery Channel South by Southwest Film Festival quibi 72 Emmy Awards Family Trivia Star Wars Tomatazos diversity A&E rom-coms japan dragons godzilla heist movie slasher know your critic Film Festival young adult Broadway book adaptation Spring TV Universal Pictures live event IFC Films Hear Us Out IMDb TV obi wan Sneak Peek TV One singing competition venice films popular golden globe awards TCM Interview Television Critics Association spy thriller slashers Cartoon Network politics satire Comic-Con@Home 2021 Rock green book jamie lee curtis Chernobyl fast and furious Fox Searchlight RT21 hispanic heritage month crime thriller Spike Stephen King Heroines Lucasfilm romantic comedy deadpool vampires Anna Paquin zero dark thirty DGA cancelled TV shows 2016 stand-up comedy rt archives spider-man Mudbound Mary Poppins Returns Acorn TV Best Actor The Walt Disney Company dogs The Arrangement MCU new zealand mob summer preview best critic resources Nat Geo international war Extras Oscar dramedy sequels Opinion Tubi VICE what to watch Video Games PBS 90s MSNBC Kids & Family Hulu genre anime criterion The Witch SDCC Lifetime Christmas movies Logo BBC teaser blaxploitation reboot Starz TCA 2017 HFPA asian-american Pixar halloween Shudder DirecTV Year in Review PlayStation OneApp screen actors guild Image Comics Sci-Fi GIFs toy story comics richard e. Grant Marvel Studios CBS toronto jurassic park christmas movies Fall TV summer TV preview latino Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Reality HBO Go Mary poppins hollywood Comic Book Pacific Islander biopic Travel Channel royal family Mindy Kaling rotten Baby Yoda TLC Character Guide Esquire cancelled TV series monster movies NYCC