AD correspondent Jordan Ruimy talks with Richard Gere about his role in Oren Moverman’s Time out Of Mind. |||
Richard Gere’s career stretches out to more than 40 years’ worth of movies. Not just any movies. His resume includes “Days of Heaven”, the highly underrated “American Gigolo”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”, “The Cotton Club”, “Pretty Woman”, “Primal Fear”, “Chicago”, “I’m Not There” and “Arbitrage”. An eclectic bunch of performances that, as the years have gone by, have solidified his reputation as one of the most underrated actors working today in Hollywood. Yes, even at 65 years old, Gere’s charming good looks still overshadow his tremendous talent as an actor. No Oscar nomination. Ever. His best chance coming in 2002 for his performance as Billy Flynn in the Best Picture winner “Chicago”. That performance won him the Golden Globe, but he didn’t even get nominated come Oscar time.
In Oren Moverman’s “Time out Of Mind”, Gere plays a homeless man that episodically wanders around the streets of New York City looking for shelter and food. That’s the movie. It’s quite simple but beautifully effortless. Moverman and Gere have made a work of art that recalls much of the minimalist, character driven cinema you expect to come out of Europe. It’s an audacious movie that will infuriate some but mesmerize others. As Gere explains, “It’s unlike anything I’ve done before, it was a very organic process and I’m very proud of the finished product”.
Meeting him at Toronto’s famous Ritz Carlton hotel, I couldn’t help but mention to him how I wrote a “for your consideration” piece for AD on his incredible performance in “Arbitrage” and how incredible he was in that movie. “That’s nice, that was a tremendous movie. I still know people that haven’t seen it”, he chuckles back. The last few films he’s done have been risky endeavours that have added an extra dimension to the 65 year-old’s already vivid career. In “Arbitrage” he played a corrupt hedge fund magnate whose life starts to fall apart. He also played Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ visionary “I’m Not There” – “It’s just a time in my career where I can afford to take more risks, I was just lucky to get these great scripts that were written by these great writers and I can’t pass on some these opportunities”. Coincidentally, Moverman’s film – he did in fact write the screenplay for “I’m Not There” – shares its title with a 1997 Bob Dylan record; however, that’s where the comparisons end. “No I don’t think there was any connection to the Dylan album, it’s just a saying that’s been used many times and it was somewhat coincidental that Dylan had used it as well, I believe was Edmund Burke used it at one point as well.”
The script for “Time Out of Mind” has been around for more than a decade and has an interesting history to it: “Oren and I worked on “I’m Not There.” The [Time Out of Mind] script must have come to me about 10 years ago, and I didn’t really want to do it then. But it was just one of those things that I kept thinking about, and I ended up buying the script … I even thought about directing it at one point but it would have not worked for me to direct and play the character.” Moverman eventually wrote the screenplay and filled in the gaps that were missing. Asking Gere if he regrets not directing it, he mentions that “Oren brought something that I wouldn’t have been able to bring” and when asked if he ever would want to be in the director’s chair one day, “yea of course … I’ve always thought about doing that one day.”
The film is very much inspired by the current art-house cinema coming out of Europe these days. There is very minimal plot and not much dialogue in the film. Gere’s character is stuck in a daily routine of just trying to survive with whatever he has at his disposal. “We shot the movie in 21 days, shooting on very long lenses. If we had to be on the streets, cameras were hidden so that there were no signs of a movie being filmed.” Gere says he learned a lot from this experience “a homeless person is worse than invisible, he or she is a black hole …. when we see a panhandler, we don’t want to go near them … I learned that through this character, people were actively avoiding me” explaining further that, “people don’t want to be sucked into a black hole of failure and misery”
Only three times during the shoot did people actually to acknowledge or help out: “Yea, we were shooting and this lady –whom we later found out was a tourist visiting New York – gave me her leftover pizza.” The other two times were African Americans and they just randomly passed along and said, Hey, Rich, how are you doing? They didn’t ask, what happened to you? Have you fallen on hard times?”
Time out of Mind” was chosen for the prestigious New York Film Festival, a film fest –unlike TIFF- known for its limited selection of films and who’s reputation for choosing the very best in world cinema did not go unnoticed by the actor “yea I know, it’s a big deal, they called us and said they chose the film. Oren and I were just honored to have it selected. we’re very excited to head down there to present it. I’m very proud of this movie”