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Richard Gere says he's been dropped from big Hollywood movies because China doesn't like him

'There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, 'Not with him',' says actor

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 20 April 2017 14:59 BST
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Fortunately the actor made it clear he is not upset about not being given the roles for studio blockbusters
Fortunately the actor made it clear he is not upset about not being given the roles for studio blockbusters (TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Richard Gere has argued his vocal stance on Tibet has cost him Hollywood blockbuster roles because the academy is fearful of alienating its burgeoning Chinese audience.

The actor starred in a number of massively successful Hollywood hits in the 1980s and 90s, such as Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman, Runaway Bride, and Internal Affairs, but has taken something of a hiatus from the them since then, instead appearing in smaller, independent roles.

Gere has now said his lack of roles is partly to do with his criticism of China’s occupation of Tibet. In his opinion, Hollywood is fearful of offending China which is now the second-biggest box-office market in the world.

“There are definitely movies that I can't be in because the Chinese will say, 'Not with him,'” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

“I recently had an episode where someone said they could not finance a film with me because it would upset the Chinese.”

Gere, a Buddhist and long-time friend of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama, is a prominent advocate for human rights in Tibet and is a co-founder of the Tibet House and a chair of the International Campaign for Tibet. His support for the Tibetan Independence Movement means he is banned from entering China.

Back in 1993, the actor found himself banned as an Academy Award presenter after he chose to denounce China’s occupation of Tibet and its “horrendous, horrendous human rights situation.” In a similar vein, Gere also called for the boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Gere’s activities have not just made Hollywood apparently reluctant to cast him in big films, he says they once resulted in him being banished from an independently financed, non-studio film which was not even intended for a Chinese release.

“There was something I was going to do with a Chinese director, and two weeks before we were going to shoot, he called saying, 'Sorry, I can't do it,'” Gere recalled. “We had a secret phone call on a protected line. If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work.”

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Fortunately, the actor made it clear he was not upset about not being given the roles for studio blockbusters. “I'm not interested in playing the wizened Jedi in your tentpole,” he said. “I was successful enough in the last three decades that I can afford to do these [smaller films] now.”

During his divorce from second wife and actress Carey Lowell, the New York Post estimated Gere’s worth to be $250 million.

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