In a new interview with Town & Country magazine, Richard Gere opened up about being a “hustler” in New York at the age of 20, his insecurities and his upcoming movie Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.
In the drama, the Golden Globe winner, 67, plays a man named Norman Oppenheimer, who befriends a young politician and future prime minister of Israel. Gere said he chose to star in the movie because he related to the titular character.
“It helps that I moved to New York when I was 20,” he told Town & Country. “Everyone goes there as a hustler, on some level. You’re inventing yourself, reinventing yourself, you have some idea of the life you want to live — and you make choices. So his mindset was something I didn’t have to work hard to bring up from the deep recesses in me. I understand that very well.”
In fact, Gere admired Norman’s optimistic persona. “People treat him very badly, but he doesn’t hold a grudge,” he told the magazine. “If I was treated that way I’d be destroyed. But there is something extraordinary in him that keeps him in motion.”
The former Hollywood sex symbol underwent somewhat of a physical transformation for the film. He told the publication that director Joseph Cedar “became obsessed” with altering his famously handsome looks. “He said, ‘You’re too good-looking to be Norman,'” Gere recalled. “We had this wonderful makeup artist who came up with a little device that would stick my ears out. It changed my look enough that it just clicked for the character.”
Norman also helped Gere acknowledge his own insecurities. “It’s not easy to look in the mirror and see the Norman in us, but I think we all have a bit — and some of us act on that more than others,” he said. “We all want to belong. There are very few among us who are totally self-contained.”
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer hits theaters on Friday, April 14.
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