Richard Gere found the heart within all the darkness in ‘Arbitrage’

Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere star in “Arbitrage.”

In “Arbitrage,” written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki, Richard Gere plays a cheating (in every possible way) hedge fund manager who spins a massive web of deception in order to protect his assets. You hate this guy already, right?

But, Gere, a Buddhist, challenged himself to make us see the man behind the monster: the hard worker, the devoted husband — and, well, even the supportive boyfriend. “My job is to take a character like this and to make him identifiable enough that you’ll take the voyage with him,” Gere tells Metro. “So if I’ve been successful and you’ve identified for two hours with a guy who’s questionable, I feel good about that. I feel like I’ve done my job.”

A quotation on the homepage of the Richard Gere Foundation reads, “all the suffering in the world rises out of wanting happiness for self, while happiness in the world rises out of wanting happiness for others.”

It’s by Shantideva.

Is your character seeking happiness for himself or for his family?

He’s defined happiness as power, money, place in the community. I would say most of the alpha males tend to think that way: “I’ve got the most beautiful woman on the side, I have the beautiful wife, the beautiful house, I’m respected wherever I go, I’m head of the foundation, I’m building a library, I’m a big shot.” Madoff was a big shot in the community. He had a son commit suicide, and he has a wife who never wants to see him again, so you see what happens from seeing yourself as the alpha center of the universe.

So where does he net?

Now, a guy like this, of course he was devastated, but in the process of this movie he has not changed. [Only] his world has changed. … But then you see someone like Clinton who, from the surface looked like he had totally destroyed his family. All the lies and the deceptions, but look at him now. Who knows what the future brings?

How were you able to create such a sympathetic character?

Although we may not know all of these people in our lives, we certainly can imagine that we know them. It’s a version of Rajat Gupta or Bernie Madoff. …  I don’t really like the kind of storytelling that decides who the villain is … I have no interest in that, to tell you the truth because I don’t see the world that way.


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