By Tenzin Dharpo
Hollywood actor Richard Gere recording His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Kalachakra 2017 in Bodh Gaya. Jan. 11, 2017. Phayul photo- Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, APR. 19: Hollywood star and avid supporter of the Tibetan struggle, Richard Gere, has said that his dissociation with big Hollywood studios and blockbuster flicks is because of China which has banned him for life for being an active spokesperson as well as a flag bearer when it comes to Tibet in the west.
“There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, ‘Not with him’. I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese,' Gere told Hollywood Reporter.
Gere was once the leading man in Hollywood with his hit films such as ‘American Gigolo,’ ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’, ‘Pretty Woman,’ among others, raking in millions in the 1980’s.
The actor who is a long-time student and a friend of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama said his involvement in the Tibetan cause had China view him as a trouble maker and consequently banned him and his work in China, which is a huge and a growing market for films. However he says, his work as an actor is unaffected; meaty character driven roles he has done over the last decade attests to such claim by the Pretty Woman star.
His work in the last few years have been more character and script oriented with films like 'Hachi: A Dog’s tale', 'Arbitrage', 'Chicago', 'Norman' and the critically acclaimed 'Time Out of Mind' carving a different niche for the 67 year old actor.
The actor says the fall out with big studios in Hollywood has not been an impediment in his career. He said, “I'm not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tent-pole. I was successful enough in the last three decades that I can afford to do these [smaller films] now.
The studios are interested in the possibility of making huge profits. But I'm still making the same films that I was making when I started. Small, interesting, character driven and narrative driven stories. It hasn't impacted my life at all.”
His activism for Tibet has had other consequences; during the 1993 Oscars, the actor spoke out about China's occupation of Tibet and its human rights situation while presenting the award for best art direction. The academy banned him for espousing his political belief although the actor says he doesn’t mind saying, “I didn't have to put on a tuxedo again. I was fine with that.”
The actor will be seen in Jon Avnet’s Three Christs in 2017.