Gere in his father’s footsteps

Star reprises creative relationship with Schrader four decades after American Gigolo

by Richard Mowe

Richard Gere and Uma Thurman in Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada. Gere said: 'When actors look at their films you see your face and your energy at that particular time'
Richard Gere and Uma Thurman in Paul Schrader’s Oh, Canada. Gere said: 'When actors look at their films you see your face and your energy at that particular time' Photo: Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
They first worked together some 45 years ago but now directors Richard Schrader and an actor who defined the Eighties Richard Gere have resurrected their collaboration.

Richard Gere: 'As the make-up was put on I saw myself a few years from now, assuming I live to the same ripe age as my father'
Richard Gere: 'As the make-up was put on I saw myself a few years from now, assuming I live to the same ripe age as my father' Photo: Richard Mowe
In Oh, Canada, presented in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival, Schrader pays tribute to his late friend, the novelist Russell Banks with Gere almost unrecognisable as a dying documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife setting the record straight at his home in Montreal, filmed by two of his former students and watched over by his wife (play by Uma Thurman).

Adapted from Banks’ penultimate novel Foregone although his original title was Oh Canada which Schrader decided to use for the film.

Just before filming began Gere, 74, had watched his own father die – he passed away last year at home with Gere and his family shortly after celebrating his 100th birthday.

Gere admitted that he wanted to “embrace as much as I could of my father. And I do look like my father. As the make-up was put on I saw myself a few years from now, assuming I live to the same ripe age as my father.

“It is a very odd thing but when actors look at their films you see your face and your energy at that particular time. I was 26 when I started to make films and when you see yourself on film it is a bizarre experience. At festivals I have watched showreels of your films spreading out your whole life.

Paul Schrader: 'That is a decision that everyone has to make about whether to unburden themselves before the moment of death'
Paul Schrader: 'That is a decision that everyone has to make about whether to unburden themselves before the moment of death' Photo: Richard Mowe
“I see the character, of course, but I also see myself pretending to be that character. It is a very odd thing being an actor especially on film because it does last whereas the theatre is ephemeral and it comes and goes.”

Schrader added that Gere had believed that is father was about to confess something that they did not but finally he did not. “That is a decision that everyone has to make about whether to unburden themselves before the moment of death. I suppose you don’t really know until the time comes and you say that I have lived this lie for long enough and now is the time to tell the truth.”

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