Richard Gere Says He Worked With "Teenagers" in 'Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'

Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
Richard Gere

Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Celia Imrie and director John Madden celebrated the ageless themes of Fox Searchlight's first-ever sequel at its U.S. premiere.

Don't feel sorry for the pension patrons of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel —despite all of Dev Patel's jokes about his property being the best place for one to die, the ensemble dramedy's ex-pats evoked the exact opposite, onscreen and on set.

"I'm 65 — I'm probably one of the young ones in this group, but if you really look at these people, these are all teenagers! I'm still a teenager! Everyone is open to the possibilities," Richard Gere told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's U.S. premiere in a slushy New York City on Tuesday. "In that sense, it wasn't even in about age, particularly, but people who are yearning for connection, yearning for love. People who have been damaged, ... we all understand heartache, relationships and moving on."

Instead, producer Graham Broadbent noted, "It engages with them as characters, regardless of their age. How we love — that's a universal idea. So it's not trying to pigeonhole old people; it's saying, these are great stories to tell and wonderful characters to be with. How much fun can we have?"

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grossed $136 million worldwide in 2012 and warranted Fox Searchlight's first-ever sequel, also starring Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle and Lillete Dubey. "I guess we love these characters so much, we just couldn't let them go," commented Fox Searchlight president Nancy Utley when introducing the film to the antsy Ziegfeld Theatre audience alongside the cast, including Judi Dench, Patel and Tina Desai.

Since a follow-up to the box-office surprise would also be a studio milestone, director John Madden admitted he did feel a bit of pressure and responsibility, "but the crucial thing is, I felt we had a story left to tell, and actually, to resolve, strangely, because the second film is really a resolution of the first." Broadbent added that the sequel with Participant Media picks up eight months after the first, and focuses less on the ex-pats' culture clash with India, and more on their work-life adventures. "I only had to make six phone calls [to the cast]," he said. "It was really an exercise in trust because there was no script, no story. They just enjoyed the first one and wanted to come back again."

With Gere as a new addition, the cast reunited with the original film's crew, received the same living accommodations during production and picked up their favorite pastime again (Bananagrams), Celia Imrie told reporters. "We had to make sure that you got the familiarity that we all had, as if we'd been living together in that hotel. And actually, because we all knew each other, the familiarity didn't have to be played, because we were just there, getting a long with our lives. … It was just fabulous to get a second helping of a beautiful country."

So who's up for a third installment? Bill Nighy told reporters, "When the second one was announced, [Dench] said, 'They better hurry up!' So I don't know if there's ever gonna be a third one. If we're all still alive, I'll do it!"

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel hits theaters March 6.

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