If you have read anything about Richard Gere and his work, or lived to see his impressive career unfurl, you know that he was one of the most successful sex symbols of the 1980-90s era of film. Fans love him for his looks, certainly, but the versatility of his acting talent is what has kept his followers, well, following him from movie to movie. Some may argue that his looks are what pushed him from just another character actor to a full blown idealised symbol of over a decade, and they might be right. But that doesn’t me we still can’t look back and enjoy a career as substantial and fulfilling as Richard Gere’s.
Directed by Richard Brooks and starring Richard Gere alongside Diane Keaton and Tuesday Weld, Looking for Mr. Goodbar was packed with talent. Some would say it was Richard Gere’s first work to get him ‘known’ in the industry by a large audience. The movie is a sexual drama around Theresa, a young teacher of deaf children in the 1970s. She goes clubbing to pick up guys for one night stands. Her sexcapades turn to a whole new level of stimulation with Richard Gere’s character Tony. They have a brief relationship of increasingly dangerous sex, culminating in a switchblade in the bedroom. When Theresa breaks up with Tony, he stalks her and harasses her outside of school. The older brother of one of her students ends up beating Tony up.
Richard Gere in Looking for Mr. Goodbar does not play the good guy or the hero. He shows acting talent beyond a good face to accurately play a sexual deviant and over aggressive male. Considering his adoring female fans only increased after this movie came out is even more impressive.
In American Gigolo, Richard Gere plays Julian Kay, another wealthy man. But the stereotypes are flipped with Gere playing the escort. Decades later Rob Schneider would play in a similar title, but without the beauty and acting finesse of Gere, the film is a comedy. But not American Gigolo! Suave and professional, even when being passed between female pimps, Richard Gere brings a certain charisma to an otherwise strange and misunderstood career.
In Pretty Woman Richard Gere stars alongside Julia Roberts. Gere’s character, Edward Lewis, hires Roberts character, Vivian Ward, to be his escort for several business and social parties. The movie spans a week’s time. The message initially was supposed to a cautionary one, but Richard Gere’s charm and pull on the viewer changed it from a dark movie on prostitution to the best Romantic Comedies of the 1990s. Actually, it’s one of the biggest earners in the whole rom com category, regardless of decade, grossing over four hundred million dollars. Richard Gere’s career is on a different level when he can take a Romantic Comedy and turn it into a widely loved best seller of both men and women.