Richard Gere Wanted His Latest Film Character to Be a Lovable Cheater -- Like Clinton

In an interview with Steve Pond of the entertainment website The Wrap, actor Richard Gere explained his latest role, headlined "Why My Cheating 'Arbitrage' Financier Is Like Bill Clinton."

Gere plays a hedge-fund manager with "silky-smooth confidence" forced to play a "high-level con game" with authorities as he cheats on his wife (played by Susan Sarandon): "You know he's got problems, but he's our Clinton." Speak for yourself, Mr. Gere...

GERE: I could have made the choice to play this character as more of a Bernie Madoff, or even darker. I mean, a real villain. But that wasn't interesting to me, or to Nick. It was too easy, and if I did that I don't think you'd be invested in him, as you say. Although you don't like what the guy does, you've gotta take the trip with him.

It's like with Bill Clinton. You know he's got problems, but he's our Clinton. It's like, "He's so lovable, he's so smart, he's cute, he's boyish … " It was more important for me to get all the cylinders working on that part, as well as the machinations of what a Machiavellian guy in the financial world is capable of. [Italics in the original.]

POND: So Madoff and Clinton were the touchstones?

GERE: At the time we made this, Madoff was the elephant in the room. Since then, some characters have emerged who are more like this guy. [JP Morgan Chase CEO] Jamie Dimon is much more like this character than Madoff – he's a reputable, charming guy who just lost $9 billion of someone else's money.

PS: At the NPR website, movie reviewer Jeanette Catsoulis really makes the flick sound like a Clinton film:

Robert may be entitled and ruthless, but it's the police who stoop to falsifying evidence; he may be serially unfaithful, but it's with his wife's tacit consent. The character is fascinating because Jarecki refuses to judge him (or to make it easy for us to do so), painting a complex personality who's used to the tightrope and doesn't fear the fall.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis