“An Officer and a Gentleman” – Academy Screening with Richard Gere

Actor Richard Gere at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening of “An Officer and a Gentleman” on June 13, 2012.           Photo by Peter Dressel

Richard Gere and Dave Carter following the Academy’s screening of “An Officer and a Gentleman” at Lighthouse, in New York. Photo by Peter Dressel

Movie star Richard Gere was in attendance on June 13 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented a 30th anniversary screening of Gere’s star making turn in 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  The screening took place in the Academy’s beautiful screening room at the Lighthouse at 111 East 59 Street, in New York.

Following the screening Gere took the stage where he was interviewed by Dave Carter.  Carter is the official Red Carpet Greeter for the Oscars, as well as a prolific journalist and author in his own right. Carter pointed out that “An Officer and a Gentleman” was the third top grossing movie of 1982 behind “E.T.” and “Tootsie.” “If that’s not the definition of a word of mouth phenomenon I don’t know what is,” Carter told the audience.

Gere, who was charming, down to earth and gracious, said it was the first time in 30 years that he had actually watched the entire film of  “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  Gere said that he does not like to watch his movies but that he was very moved by the experience.  He explained that, “I remember everything about making this movie, everything you can’t see, what we went through to make the movie and the initial meetings we had and the time of my life when we did this.  I’m being flooded. It’s very emotional.”

Gere recalled that when director Taylor Hackford showed him the “Officer” script that, “I admired it but I didn’t really connect with it.  I thought it was a little too sentimental for my tastes at that time.” Gere talked about working with screenwriter Doug Day Stewart on the script.  “We really buckled down.  I was a very punky New York guy. I wanted to make it as real and as tough as we could.  So we improvised a lot, rewrote, just pushing each other to make it as honest as we could.”  Gere said that when shooting started they had a real drill instructor from Pensacola on the set.   Gere recalled that, “We just mined everything we could from this guy for what the real deal was.  A lot of this stuff came directly from him.  He said, ‘Look I could never tell you that I did this, but this is what we did.’”

Of the actual making of “Officer” Gere recalled, “We were in this very small town, Port Townsend, and none of us were making any money.  It was a very small budget.  Paramount, I don’t think they cared that much about this movie to tell you the truth. It was hard.  It was just a hard shoot.  I was amazed at how well directed this was.”  He said that Hackford and director of photography Donald Thorin did a great job creating and capturing the film’s authenticity.

Of the cast and crew Gere pointed out, “We were all beginning.  All of us were just trying to figure out how to do this.”  Asked specifically about the cast, which included Debra Winger, Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr., David Keith, Lisa Blount, David Caruso, Tony Plana, Robert Loggia and Grace Zabriskie, Gere replied, “They were all good.  Believe me, all these guys were terrific.  I was very pleased and honored and thankful to have that group of actors around.”

The evening was thrown open to audience questions.  A man in the audience told Gere, “I can’t get my wife to stop watching ‘Pretty Woman.’”  After the audience erupted into laughter, Gere admitted that he was at a loss as to how to help the man.  However, Gere did allow that, “Probably of all the movies I’ve made that’s the one that wherever I am in the world, whatever culture, believe me, any culture, it’s deep Asia, it’s Bornio, it’s Europe, it’s South America, it’s Antarctica, wherever it is, that movie has spoken to people.  Why? I don’t know.  There’s no magic formula you could follow to make that happen.  It’s just pure magic.”

Carter ended the evening by asking Gere,  “You say you don’t love  to watch yourself.  Now that you’ve had what seems to be a pretty emotionally rewarding experience watching this film tonight, is there another film from the past that you are now itching to see?”  Gere replied simply, “No,” to much laughter and applause.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on June 14, 2012, in Academy Events at Lighthouse, Classics, Feature Articles, Personal Appearances and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Alexis Rupert

    Very interesting! I’ve always liked Richard Gere. I loved his movie “The Hunting Party” which didn’t get a lot of publicity but was very good (in my opinion).

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