Last night I had the strangest dream--and I'm not talking about the one with the head-scratching Matthew McConaughey cameo (maybe I'm psychic because unbeknownst to me when I went to bed last night, his girlfriend had just given birth to their son). In the other oddball dream, Richard Gere was my dad or some kind of father figure, and he was driving us in a huge truck (quite recklessly, I might add) to Mill Creek Mall in my hometown of Kissimmee, Florida. Mill Creek was the strip mall where I got my first job as a bag boy at Publix supermarket at age 15. I have no idea what this dream means, but it's always a pleasure to see Gere. I think he's one of our most underrated actors, and it's a great Hollywood mystery that he's never been nominated for an Oscar. (Ditto for Donald Sutherland, by the way--I mean, have you seen Day of the Locust?)
My favorite Gere performance was in 2002's Unfaithful. Diane Lane was rightly praised, particularly for the scene on the train after her first romp with Olivier Martinez's character. (Interesting fact: Martinez was described by Gere as a "kid" in the film, but in reality, he is 10 days short of one year younger than Lane.) Charlize Theron ended up taking the Oscar for her frightening performance--and for physically living up to the title--in Monster. She deserved it. But I would have been just as happy if it had gone to Lane for Unfaithful or Naomi Watts for 21 Grams. Just watching Watts beat the crap out of Benicio del Toro with a baseball bat was worth the price of admission (or, in my case, the DVD rental).
But boy, do I digress. My favorite Gere scene in Unfaithful (SPOILER ALERT!) is the one in which he struggles with Martinez' corpse in the elevator after wrapping it in a rug (see video below). His fear and desperation is so palpable that I found myself rooting for him, wanting him to get away with the hideous murder that he'd just committed. I also loved Gere in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, An Officer and a Gentleman, Chicago and even opposite a very wooden Jennifer Lopez in Dance with Me, but in my opinion, his work in Unfaithful is his very best.
I don't think he's too popular in Hollywood, but perhaps he'll have his day at the Oscars yet. He's got a few baity upcoming projects. He'll reunite with Diane Lane--this time he's the other man--later this year in Nights in Rodanthe, and he'll play the husband of Oscar queen Hilary Swank's Amelia Earhart in the 2009 biopic Amelia. Who knows? Maybe he'll pull a Reese Witherspoon, who won her Oscar for portraying down-home June Carter Cash as uptown society matron in Walk the Line, and upstage the star of the show. As hopeful as I am--Hilary Swank needs another Oscar like I need another ridiculous dream--I'm not holding my breath.