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Richard Gere On Playing A Jerk You Want To Root For

Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, whose carefully constructed life threatens to come crashing down in <em>Arbitrage</em>.
Myles Aronowitz
Roadside Attractions
Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, whose carefully constructed life threatens to come crashing down in Arbitrage.

In the new movie Arbitrage, Richard Gere does something remarkable. He plays Robert Miller, a billionaire hedge fund manager, philanthropist, loving father and, as Gere told us, "He's a gambler."

Gere's character is racing to close a deal to sell his company and cash in before auditors discover a $400 million hole in the books, a hole that could not only scuttle the deal but land him in prison, child's play to Robert Miller.

So naturally, when Miller gets in a car accident that kills his mistress, instead of stirring up headlines that could shut down the sale of his firm, he covers his tracks and begins an elaborate game of cat and mouse with police. In case you couldn't tell, Robert Miller is a monster.

Interview Highlights

On making a despicable character human

"I mean, that's one of the uniform things and kind of mystifying things. ... But look, that's my job, is to make characters human, to make them knowable on some level. I think it had root in when you spend time with even supposedly monsters, there's a human being there. And in storytelling, you've got to find that human being."

On the mentality of his character, Robert Miller

"It's a really interesting kind of person that never truly gives in. Now, if you'd imagine they were in the service of something extraordinary on the planet, what they could achieve. I guess the hope for me is that the people who are so effective in the world and can do this stuff — which is just ultimately pretty silly, just the accumulation of wealth — if they were putting their minds and their talents and their skill towards being of service and responsible on this planet, man, this would be a garden."

A mistress (Laetitia Casta) is only one of the secrets Robert (Richard Gere) keeps hidden.
Myles Aronowitz / Roadside Attractions
Roadside Attractions
A mistress (Laetitia Casta) is only one of the secrets Robert (Richard Gere) keeps hidden.

On his own background

"I came from a very small town in upstate New York, and so these are all characters to me and kind of research jobs. It was funny to me early on that I found myself in the best dressed list because of the characters I play. It would be a tuxedo movie, and I'd be on the best dressed list, but it was like I'm sitting here in a T-shirt and running pants right now ... which is basically my world. You know, I live very simply in the country, and that's who I am."

On his understanding of wealth

"My father grew up on a farm, and he was extremely poor, but he found a way to go to college. I remember talking to him a few years ago, and it was - we were talking about technology, and I said if there's any technology that's emerged since he was born, which was in 1922, and has it really made life better in terms of kind of genuine happiness?

And he said, 'No, no, no, not at all.' And the wisdom of that, I think, is extremely powerful. That the qualities of happiness that we all can embrace are certainly outside the surface of things. On the other hand, we should all have health care, we should all have food, we should all have shelter, all those basic things, and we can do it. We can do it on this planet. But the excess and the greed, that's what everyone is reacting to now."

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