A few days ago when the trailer for The Second Best Marigold Hotel was released, we thought, Oh cool! It’ll be fun to watch grande dames like Maggie Smith and Judi Dench work their magic with a withering zinger again. But then, boom! Richard Gere struts into a room and demonstrates at 64, he still oozes enough raw sex appeal and animal magnetism to shame young actors who hadn’t even been conceived during his heyday in the early ’80s. As one character in the sequel to the surprise 2012 hit comedy, which followed pensioners as they open a hotel in India, exclaims upon seeing the silver fox, “Lord have mercy on my ovaries.” Hear, hear, sister! Although ageism is alive and thriving in the queer world, it’s inconceivable that anyone would turn down a romantic tête-à-tête with someone who looks like Gere merely because he’s of a certain vintage. The actor, who once curbed speculation that that his marriage to supermodel Cindy Crawford was an arranged union between two gay people by issuing a press statement to confirm his heterosexuality, has never been one to shy away from taking on gay roles, such as the provocative stage drama Bent or playing an AIDS-stricken choreographer in And The Band Played On.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane with this eternally sensual and underrated performer.
One of Gere’s first big breaks was as Danny Zuko in the 1973 London production of the musical Grease.
Gere won raves for his performance in 1980 as a gay concentration camp prisoner in the searing Broadway drama Bent, which called on the actor to simulate masturbation on stage with another actor.
Diane Keaton headlined the 1978 film adaptation of the controversial best-seller Looking For Mr. Goodbar, but many left the theater overwhelmed by Gere dancing in nothing but a jockstrap.
In Days of Heaven, Terrence Mallick’s poetic 1978 drama, Gere’s beauty competed with the magnificent cinematography and the rugged handsomeness of costar Sam Shepard.
In Yanks, a 1979 drama about World War II from out director John Schlesinger, Gere cut quite the romantic figure.
Gere’s biggest break came in 1980 when he stepped in for John Travolta as the high-priced call boy in American Gigolo and he became one of the first A-list actors to bare all on camera.
An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982 was a huge Oscar-winning hit and sealed the actor’s star status.
When he starred in 1983’s remake of the French new wave classic Breathless as a sexy small-time hood, Gere again demonstrated his comfort with full frontal nude scenes.
The 1990 rom-com Pretty Woman found Gere as a businessman involved with a hooker (Julia Roberts) who just wants to shop and became one of the actor’s biggest hits. The film also created a bit of controversy when Gere’s greying locks were darkened for the poster.
Gere, with a head full of beautiful silver hair at this point, reunited with Roberts in 1999’s Runaway Bride, a not-too-successful attempt to revive the screwball comedy genre.
Gere went back to his musical roots and showed everyone he still has the old razzle dazzle as Billy Flynn in the 2002 Oscar-winning best picture Chicago.
Gere garnered his career-best reviews and a Golden Globe nomination as a Bernie Madoff-like character in Arbitage, a 2012 ripped-from-the-character drama.
Perhaps one day this fine actor will be recognized by the Motion Picture Academy, but until then watch Gere hold his own with Dench and Smith in the Marigold trailer below.