Richard Gere wants to have a public conversation about the issue of homelessless after a photo of him playing a homeless man in the film Time Out of Mind went viral.
“I was completely surprised to find that last week someone posted a photo of me on a Facebook fan page as a homeless man on the streets of New York that drew 1.6 million likes and over a half-a-million shares,” he wrote on costar Jena Malone’s Facebook page. “While the story that accompanied the photograph was somewhat fictional (especially the $100 hand-outs), it seemed to have touched something important in people. I’d like to find out what that is and what we can do together to make something good and meaningful happen for our homeless brothers and sisters.”
Gere said he’ll be hosting a Q&A Wednesday on Malone’s Facebook page at 11 a.m. ET to discuss homelessness and how it impacts people’s lives. He’ll be joined by his Time Out of Mind director, Oren Moverman.
Time Out of Mind stars Gere as a homeless man in New York City, while Malone plays his daughter. Portions of the film were shot with hidden cameras, through windows and storefronts, allowing Gere to panhandle next to real people and be totally unrecognized.
“I could tell when people from two blocks away had made a judgment about me on the corner. Just by the vibe I was giving off and the fact that I was standing still in a city that’s always moving. I wasn’t harassing anyone,” he told EW last month. “I had a coffee cup but I wasn’t shaking it in front of people’s faces. But people are used to making judgments about situations, consciously and subconsciously, from two blocks away. And from that far away they’d make the decision not to engage.”
“It’s about that guy on the street who we don’t pay any attention to, but we don’t really pay any attention to each other anyhow,” he said of the film. “Look, 99 percent of what happens in my life I’m not paying attention to. I’m not feeling truly compassionate about much, because I can’t take it. It’s so demanding. So how do we stay open?”
Gere also shared a story about one woman who did just that. “The one moment that really touched me, and it ended up being in the New York Post, was when we were shooting outside of Grand Central and a woman came up to me with a bag of food,” he recalled. “I was going through trash cans at that point. She came up with food for me, and I was startled because she was the first person who had engaged me for days. And she gave me the bag and she went away.”
You can see the trailer for Time Out of Mind above.