and leading man, Richard Gere, was once at the top of the Hollywood A-list. The charismatic actor was in high demand and regularly received both critical and public praise for his craft. However, Gere’s illustrious mainstream career effectively ended in the 1990s—for an unconventional reason.
Hollywood is fickle and actors can lose their hard-fought fame in a matter of minutes. In some cases, or controversies. In other cases, . While a career dip or loss is common among Hollywood actors, Gere lost his career for an unconventional reason. The actor’s career plummeted due to his political speech and activism .
Keep reading to learn about the rise of Richard Gere’s career, how he lost it all and what he is doing now.
Richard Gere was born to a large methodist family on August 31, 1949, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Growing up, Gere showed a diverse range of talents—from athletics to music. In high school, he played trumpet in the band and excelled in gymnastics. He even attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on a gymnastics scholarship. Gere studied psychology and drama at UMass for two years before dropping out to pursue acting full-time. Despite showing such promise, before gaining fame. The actor was unable to go out to eat during the early days of his career and relied mostly on eggs since they were so cheap.
After leaving UMass to pursue theater, as Danny Zuko in a London production of . Gere continued to rise in the theater world while working odd jobs to support his budding career. In 1979, Gere was discovered while playing the promiscuous gay socialite, Max Berber in the Broadway production of . Shortly after transitioning to the screen, Gere garnered mainstream acclaim for his role in . Later, Gere’s Broadway and Hollywood skills would merge for the award-winning movie musical, .
shortly after he achieved mainstream fame. Interviewers often asked the actor to confirm his sexuality, but Gere initially refused to do so. He argued that the question was meaningless and did not deserve a response because all sexualities were equal. Eventually, Gere’s public relationships with women made it clear that the actor was heterosexual. Over the years, Gere has been married to three women, including Cindy Crawford. He is currently married to Alejandra Silva. The rampant rumor did not seem to slow the rising star’s career, but many now respect his decision to avoid answering the question at the beginning of his career in the film industry.
After gaining recognition for his performances in films such as , Gere became an A-list actor. By the 1990s, he was an in-demand romantic leading man—famously starring opposite Julia Roberts in The film was a huge success and continues to be wildly popular even decades after its release. While Gere andRoberts became an on-screen power couple, . By the mid-nineties, Gere had become one of the most sought-after leading men and brightest stars in Hollywood.
Gere began practicing Tibetan Buddhism in his twenties—even meeting the Dalai Lama —and became invested in the well-being of the region. The actor subsequently used his platform to speak out against Chinese aggression in the autonomous region. , Gere condemned the superpower for its treatment of Tibet. Because China holds significant influence over Hollywood, the speech caused Gere to be essentially blackballed. Chinese investors have since prevented Gere from being cast in studio films and from receiving Academy Awards—even for his Best Picture winning film, .
Due to China’s financial influence in Hollywood, it became nearly impossible for the actor to secure roles in studio films. Directors would tell Gere that they could not finance their film if he was attached “because it would upset the Chinese,” according to . So, Gere turned to independent films, which were free of Chinese influence. In recent years, he has acted in such Indie films as and . Through these outstanding but less mainstream performances, Gere has proven that his acting was always about the craft and not the fame.
While Independent films have largely allowed Gere to continue acting, the actor’s political speech once lost him an Indie role. While speaking with, he explained that the Chinese director feared for his family and for his career if he worked with Gere. “We had a secret phone call on a protected line,” Gere told . “If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work.”
Gere has said that, thanks to Indie films, his unspoken ban has had little impact on his day-to-day life. He has continued to play the same types of characters and tell the same types of stories as before, even if on a smaller scale. The actor has in fact received some of the for his roles in Indie films such as .