Richard Gere Says Begging on New York's Streets Was a "Profound Experience"

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Richard Gere

The actor stars as a homeless man in Oren Moverman's 'Time Out of Mind'.

Actor Richard Gere revealed how he made "two and a half dollars" panhandling on a New York street while filming test scenes for his role as a homeless man in Oren Moverman's Time Out of Mind.

Gere and the film crew made an effort to practice discrete filming to ensure naturalism, footage that ended up in the final cut of a film he co-produced.

"We set up the cameras in a Starbucks and I was around the corner in Astor Place," Gere said.

"I came around the corner and was totally in character. I had my hat down and no one was paying me any attention. I had a coffee cup and started asking for change ... 'spare any change? ... can you help me out?'" the actor said.

Gere was talking to reporters Saturday at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, which opened Friday with a screening of the film and presentation of a lifetime achievement Crystal Globe Award to the 65-year-old actor.

"We shot for 45 minutes. No one paid me any attention. Some people put some money into my cup. They did not make eye contact. I think I made about two and a half dollars. I was very unsuccessful as a bum on the street."

The experience, he added, was a powerful one.

"It was an incredibly profound experience. In my life there are a lot of expectations. I'm a movie star coming here. The same guy on a street corner with a coffee cup, no one pays any attention to," he continued. "If anything the guy on the street corner is probably closer to who I really am than the movie star in a tuxedo on a red carpet."

Gere, who also plays a billionaire in Andrew Renzi's Franny — also screening at Karlovy Vary and marking its 50th edition — said his charitable work with New York's Coalition for the Homeless over the past decade had helped prepare him for the role of a homeless man estranged from his daughter, played in the film by Johanna Mason.

His role as a special inspector for the charity had given him an insight into the lives of the homeless, though the actual experience of begging on Manhattan's street, where he could see people a couple of blocks away sizing up how to deal with the "bum on a corner," was a new one for him.

Gere also spoke about the importance of being a father and how he strives to ensure he works in New York (the actor resides in NY) so he can have weekends free to spend with his 15-year-old-son Homer, whose mother is Gere's ex-wife model and actress Carey Lowell.

Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeremy Strong and Yul Vazquez also star.

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