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The career of Richard Gere

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Mark Kermode | 11:27 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

What is it that truly makes a great Richard Gere performance? In the week of the release of Hachi: A Dog's Tale, (or indeed Hachiko: A Dog's Story as it is variously known) I draw on key texts such as Looking for Mr Goodbar, An Officer and a Gentleman, and American Gigolo to offer what I believe is the definitive formula for top Gere.

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  • Comment number 1.

    3 points:
    1)from now on,every time i'll watch a Gere movie,i'll be focusing on the BBB and forget about his actual acting...which is good.
    2)If the BBB is Gere's best chance of getting even close to acting then...i guess you have to use any means necessary to make people believe you worth being in this business.Keanu reeves might use some of these tricks.
    3)Very good analysis from dr K but nevertheless useless for a useless actor.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Dr Mark,

    I think Richard the Gere has now found his prefect acting match in his latest film, 'Hachi: A Dog's Tale'. Where there's lots of blinking,breathing and buns showing - and that's just the dog -
    boom boom!

    But imagine poor Richard's moment of realisation when he co-starred in 'Primal Fear' with Edward Norton. No amount of the three B's were going to stop him from being acted off the screen.

    But then again, hasn't that been the case in nearly all his films?

  • Comment number 3.

    Dr Kermode, you are a poet, a scholar and a gentleman.

    Thank you for this clip, which make up for the travesty that was 'At Holmes With Guy'.

  • Comment number 4.

    Surely this technique can be applied to almost any actor... I've studied Roger Moore and discovered no more than one column in my "graph" (actually a matrix); E, the "eyebrow".

  • Comment number 5.

    I think 'Days Of Heaven' is a perfect example of this. Gere isn't actually in it that much (Malick gives fields of hay more screen-time) but he blinks so much I thought he was on the edge of an attack of some kind. During one scene I half expected him to collapse under the weight of his own eye lids such was the frequency of it all. There's another scene just before it where he raids a medicine cabinet - he could definitely have done with picking something up for this performance destroying condition. Not much breathing or buns though.

    One film that goes against this theory, if I remember correctly, is a 2007 thriller called 'The Flock' (it went straight to DVD over here and it's such a rip off of Se7en style-wise, I think Fincher could sue) in which there is minimal blinking, breathing or buns - or at least very little for a Richard Gere performance.

    But I think you've hit the nail on the head as to why I think he's such a bad actor. If the eyes are a window to the soul, Gere has the curtains permanently closed, only occasionally peeking out with a hint of a performance. And for a career that spans nearly forty years, it's just not good enough.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Dr. K,

    I think the problem with this equation is that it is based on things that YOU notice as an individual. You have to remember that a favourite actor is like a best mate. There isn't any specific trait or gesture that can equal the sum of the parts it is an individual attraction between two individuals.

    Clearly you fixate on blinking, breathing and his buns (dear oh dear)! But you have to leave open the idea that other people who are also fans of The Gere Stick are fixating on other attributes. Perhaps his grey hair? Perhaps his voice?

    Could you use this equation to explain why you like your friends and find an equation that shows why your best friend is indeed your best friend?

    I just feel that attraction on any level is inexplicable with equations and is something that only poetry can articulate.

  • Comment number 7.

    .....not really a graph is it Mark. More of a chart.... sorry.

  • Comment number 8.

    b is for brilliant. and bravo.

    loved this.

  • Comment number 9.

    As the previous poster has stated it's a table not a graph.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks Chiba for reminding me of Days Of Heaven. There's a great scene in which Richard Gere after a particularly grueling 14 hour shift in the steel mill stands framed by the factory gates and wearing what looked to my eye like a pair of sepia tinted Calvin Klein jeans runs a perfectly manicured hand through his blow dried hair. I think this was followed by a blink and the kind of petulant scowl not seen since Elvis got his call up papers. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hey Mark, what about The jackal?

    Its an blinking madhouse with an offensivly bad irish stereotype performance saying all IRA terroists are womanisers. The only film ive seen where you actually want the baddie, Bruce Willis, to triumph at the end (even though he heartlessly kills Jack Black).

  • Comment number 12.

    @ Orthodoxcaveman
    Yeah, I know the scene you're on about, I find most of the movie to be like that! But I think that besides the cinematography it's a really bad film and I just don't get the love that surrounds it. Anyway, that's for a different blog, but thanks for flagging up yet another issue with his performance in that film!

  • Comment number 13.


    I forgot that Jack Black was in The Jackal! to paraphrase Father Ted Crilley, now there was a film that was truly "chewing-gum for the eyes!"

    Bruce Willis went on to play the exact same character in a few episodes of Friends...

    if I remember correctly Mr. Gere scored a full 10 out of 10 on the BBB scale for Internal Affairs, though the film was woeful!

  • Comment number 14.

    Gere and Kaprisky over Belmondo and Seberg?
    - Borderline heresy, I say.

  • Comment number 15.

    no mention of days of heaven, geres best film (and still the best film terrence mallick's ever made)

  • Comment number 16.

    WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? you can't just change what one of the Bs stands for! that's like when they changed RnB from meaning rhythm 'n' blues to meaning rhythm 'n' bass!

  • Comment number 17.

    Sorry Mark, have to object to your praise of Jim McBride's 'Breathless', and Gere's cringe-worthy performance. I recently endured it for a 'Film Aesthetics' presentation at university, where I was comparing both versions. I will admit that I find more depth to the US version, but that's because it is so bog standard in its style that, it has none of the originality, or importance of Goddard's; and therefore needs it, desperately. The US version typically Hollywoodises the film, with emphasis on romanticising the plot and characters. In the original the protagonist is quirky, but in order to translate this for the US, Gere chews the scenery to the point where it's just a pain to watch. He tries to be amusing and likeable, but he's extremely annoying and, worse, when watching it, you feel embarrassed for him. At least the film was marginally decent in the second half.

  • Comment number 18.

    Even that tiny snippet of 'Hitachi: A Dog's Tale' made me feel a little nauseous. I'd like to see it in order to challenge my preconceptions, but I'm worried a my be sick or pass out in the cinema.

    As for Gere, I usually find him an inoffensive yet unengaging screen presence. Irrespective of him blink-breathing-bun/buddhism ratio.

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm with you on this one Wolfticket; in the words of Mr Kreosote "Bring me a bucket"
    Richard Gere is the human equivalent of the Penguin in The Wrong Trousers!
    Dr K you are a genius, you should take your act on the road...I'd pay good money to see it!

  • Comment number 20.

    "I GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! [Hoh-hoh-hoh] I GOT NOWHERE ELSE TO GO! [Hoh-hoh-hoh!]"

    Long time fan Kermode, but having seared that image into my consciousness, there are some experiences that you really needn't share with the public. We need to establish some boundaries, sir.

  • Comment number 21.

    That sounds like a good title for a Richard Gere biopic: "From Buns to Buddhism". 8)

    If I have a favourite Gere film, it has to be "Dr. T and the Women", directed by Robert Altman. It's been a while since I saw it, but if I remember correctly he offers no buns, some breathing (in a scene where he helps a woman give birth), and a fair amount of justified blinking. Justified, because I'd be blinking as well as hyperventilating if I was surrounded by the same insane women as Gere's doctor was. The buns on display belonged to Farrah Fawcett (as the doctor's wife), who has a public meltdown, strips off and jumps in to a shopping mall fountain. Blinkin' 'eck ...

    Altman may no longer be with us, but I think it's time for a sequel: "Dr. K and the Penguins"!

  • Comment number 22.

    I really need to watch more Richard Gere movies.

    After you epic rant today on The Bounty Hunter, I'd love to hear your thoughts on a forthcoming role, where Butler does the Little Man/Fred Claus thing of putting his face on a little person; its as if Butler is finding new ways of being terrible:

    Oh, and Warner Bros. are going to release every blockbuster in 3D. Prepare to sigh... now.:

  • Comment number 23.

    The only reason to note the carerr of Richard Gere is that he has the distinction of being in the worst film ever made, 'First Knight'.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dr K, For that performance you get a 10, 10, 10 on the BBB scale.
    Thanks :)

  • Comment number 25.

    I've always liked Richard Gere although it wasn't until Internal Affairs that I actually thought he was a good actor. He was more of a charismatic presence.

    It's a shame that after Internal Affairs the 90s were such a wash out for him with some really poor choices when he could have really made some strong films instead he made films such as First Knight and the Jackal.

    It's a shame he doesn't pick better films, recently he was good in films such films as The Hunting Party and the Hoax yet he still decides to make films like Shall We Dance.

    I'm looking forward to Brooklyn's Finest as it looks like it might be another role where he pushes himself a bit more.

  • Comment number 26.

    This may be the post of the year, and it's only March. So funny! I like Richard Gere and I have absolutely no idea why. He's just about charasmatic enough, picks good enough movies, and does grey very well. A Bit like Mr Clooney.

    But Dr Kermode forget one very important element of the equation.

    G is for.....

  • Comment number 27.

    Only one movie I can think of where the three 'B' doesn't apply completely is Internal Affairs.Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 28.

    If I understand you correctly, you're saying that;

    A 10 scoring amount of Mr Gere's 'hind parts' is completely interchangeable with a 10 scoring amount of Buddhism. This can only lead me to conclude that in the good doctor's eyes:

    Buddhism = a load of arse

  • Comment number 29.

    Mark, you're a hypocrite, and a sexist one at that. You rip to pieces actresses because they can't act, like Sienna Miller. Yet you ADMIRE Richard Gere inspite of the fact, in your own words, his acting consists entirely of blinking, sighing, and squinting. In my universe, that means he's a crap actor. I mean really crap. In fact he's the male equivalent of every damn actress you have ever mocked and ridiculed, including Keira Knightley. He's a terrible actor and you LIKE him for it? What the hell is this? Why are you so forgiving? Because he's a bloke?

  • Comment number 30.

    @ I_am_I:

    Despite the fact that the good doctor has failed to identify the blatant misogyny of Twilight, I think it has more to do with the fact that Gere despite all his thespian shortcomings, is a likeable screen presence.
    - There's a charm to the thre B's. And charm is a phrase I've never heard uttered in conjunction with, for example, Sienna Miller.

  • Comment number 31.

    I guess the book tours finished then. Clearly Dr K found himself with too much time on his hands. :)

  • Comment number 32.

    This is one of the funniest posts in a while BUT i agree with I_am_I, and the only reason I can think of for Mark's views on Gere is sexism.

  • Comment number 33.

    That was hilarious.

    Maybe next Dr. K can do a video about Harrison Ford and the 'Finger of Doom'.

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh for the love of god! Do you actually think this is funny? Try adding something to film studies rather than making awful youtube wannabe clips, remember the time you used to actually add something to British film studies? Maybe not, all of this comedy success may have gone to your head. I'll try and get you a shot at the comedy club if you would like? I remember when I actually respected your film opinions, the time you introduced Possession springs to mind, but now you're turning film studies into a joke, thanks.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi Dr

    A good analogy of Richard Gere's acting career. But how do you rate his performance in Internal Affairs on the three B's scale? He keeps the 'Blinking' and the 'Breathing' to a minimal until the climax of the film, but there are no 'Buns'. You could, in theory, replace the 'Buns' column for 'B*****D', where he scores a resounding 10 out of 10. For me, his best performance.

  • Comment number 36.

    You could argue - and have I think - that Richard Gere hasn't had a 'career' so much as he's had a ca-rear.

  • Comment number 37.

    The Flock is my favourite Richard Gere film. He eschews all the BBB stuff and plays a guy who is on the edge. It is brilliant and unfairly neglected by the distributors and studio. Andrew Lau needs more Hollywood work.

  • Comment number 38.


    Umm interesting blog Mark,though must be said that was slightly umm..weird,on the basis that I think you might have alittle to much time on your "massive" hands..boom boom!!

    Only joking.To be honest I havent been a Richard Gere fan for some time,I have always found him a terribly annoying on screen presence and its because of the things you have rightly pointed out.His performances are so little in difference that I could imagine someone could muster up a compilation of all his works pinned together and I would surely find it (torturous and generally painfull on my eyes) difficult in telling a difference from one performance from the next.
    (his acting skills in the remake of the jackal is partically a "laugh or cry" experience,to be honest I think I was taking as much blinking and deep breathing in that performance than I think he has in his whole career,or possibly not).

    Super blog again.
    One question,have you seen "The Room"?
    I have been trying to find it here in the uk but its impossible.Its Tearing me apart.

  • Comment number 39.

    Unlike nearly all other leading men, Gere never seems 'nice', no matter what the role - selfish, vain, arrogant perhaps, but not 'nice'. For that alone he is to be treasured.

  • Comment number 40.

    Table not Graph!!! Honestly, call yourself a Doctor?

  • Comment number 41.

    Jennifer Richard Gere..
    how about a good actor/actress for a change?

  • Comment number 42.

    Why is no-one mentioning Primal Fear?

    Where there are no Buns, hardly any Breathing and very little (noticeable) Blinking. Which is the equivalent of Al Pacino not performing a shouty angry rant in one of his films.

    Then again Gere does play second fiddle to every other character he is in a scene with, not because he's a terrible actor but because he is not performing his trademark BBB and thus making him as important as wallpaper.

  • Comment number 43.

    This sounds like a good drinking game. Looks like I'll be starting with Breathless.

  • Comment number 44.

    wrote darkdreamweaver1

    "Only one movie I can think of where the three 'B' doesn't apply completely is Internal Affairs. Correct me if I'm wrong."

    If by that you mean that it was a decent film then- You're Wrong!

    Sorry but Infernal Affairs is a contender for the worst movie ever made.

    If anyone here thinks Dr K is being sexist they should check out this abhorrent flick to see what proper sexism looks like. Shame on you Figgis...

  • Comment number 45.

    Good Dr,

    Gere is one of the most narcissistic actors I have ever seen on screen. And when you're a teen getting into the movies that can of self-conscious performace - the look-at-me arrogance and swagger - is arguably one of a fascinations of cinema. In that sense he's a true star.

    But the problem I have is that he ought to have found other acting strategies as the ripe age he is now, because the when a man of his stature and maturity is still conveying with every performance 'look-at-me' or just as bad 'believe as I do' it starts to wear a bit thin, no?

    I've heard you mention before the 'arch' performances of some actors interrupts the suspension of disbelief and tears you away from the film's narrative. I would have thought everything you describe about Gere conforms to that. Wouldn't it be easier just to put his poster up on the wall? You'd miss the blinking, but at the right angle, and with a stick on incense lit beside it, you could have the buns and buddhism.

  • Comment number 46.

    This is by far the funniest, and creepiest, thing you've done in a long while, good doctor.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think a similar critique can be done on George Clooney and Tom Cruise. Clooney's technique seems to be: head drop, deep sigh, wry smile, then some sort of unfathomable mumble. A hokey double-take courtesy of Cary Grant, can also be thrown into the mix. Whereas Cruise does the: head drop, sigh, raised eyebrow, furrowed brow, pained grimace (said grimace can be alternated with a flashing grin revealing more teeth than a Great White, depends what the script calls for).

    You can get by on a smile - apparently - and they do.

    Saying that, Clooney was grand in Micheal Clayton so what do I know?

  • Comment number 48.

    While we may go our separate ways on the odd film (or two or three), bizarre displays like this remind me why you are truly my favorite critic.

  • Comment number 49.

    #47 Northern Val - nice observations -perhaps the doc could expand his theory out to a full 'graph', charting the differences between different styles of male wooden acting. Also, if female actresses tried the same tricks they would be roundly mocked, yet these guys get oscar nominations and massive pay-checks, further reinforcing the Doc's theory about sexism at the top in hollywood, a hang-over from the shauvenist studio past.

    ...however, with Gere, you've missed an important trick - the bottom lip pout - he actually uses that one the most, usually either before or after one of his open mouthed breathing techniques. could also add an occasional wincing or knowing smile, with massive dimple action going on around the sides. So it's more of a BBBPD system - Blinking, Breathing, Buns, Pout and Dimples.

    ...and the buns are always there in the form of some aesthetically appealling round objects, whether they be male, female or inanimate. For instance, in 'The Flock', you've got S&M pervs getting spanked as well as Clare Dane's massive eyeballs, or in Pretty Woman you've got ample short skirts and push-up bras. It's like a distraction technique to keep you in a child like state of mind, preventing you from over analysing the performance.

    ..the buddhism, that's just the underlying philosophy of his acting - because buddhists believe in repeating the same rituals over and over until some ecstatic revelation occurs and everything seems to be understood, even though none of it actually is. Gere never really plays naive characters who are in the dark for most of the movie, does he? - he's always like some investigator of people's true human nature, sussing things out while breathing and pouting, struggling to accept the truth while blinking a lot, then looking to his co-star with a knowing dimpled smile. Right before someone gets their buns out.

    Like the Doc, I still like hime for some reason - guess I've been duped by the Gere-eye mind-trick.

  • Comment number 50.

    your blog is very good

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Terrence Malick had that list long before you Dr. Kermode and you should be ashamed to be passing it off as your own.


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