Ever since his speech against the occupation of Tibet during the ’93 Oscars, the actor has seen a downward spiral in his popularity.
Once one of the most sought after and loved actors in Hollywood, Richard Gere’s open opposition to the Chinese occupation of Tibet has created a rift between him and Hollywood directors, due to China’s financing of Hollywood films. Chinese authorities have imposed a life-long ban on him from entering the nation. Now that the superpower has become a huge market for Hollywood, it is only natural that for Hollywood to shy away from him.
Gere’s interest in Buddhism, however, is neither new nor young. He was interested in Tibetan Buddhism since his early 20s, and has been devoted to the Dalai Lama ever since and considers the Dalai Lama to be his teacher and guru. His devotion to Buddhism followed him into his life as a celebrity, and today, he is a full-fledged practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.
His downward spiral began after a speech he made in 1993 during the Oscars. Instead of sticking to what he was supposed to have said, Gere launched a full-fledged verbal attack on the Chinese government, decrying the country’s lack of human rights, and its inhuman and unfair occupation of Tibet. Ever since then, he steadily became an enemy of China, and eventually, lost popularity with Hollywood as well. In fact, Gere reveals that directors have been very open about the reason they either rejected him for their movies or canceled their contract with him – disfavor with China. This fear of China is so high, he adds, that even directors are afraid to cast him. “If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work,” he told Vanity Fair.
Gere has not backed down from his open attacks on China, despite how it has affected his career. In 2008, for example, he spoke in favor of boycotting the Beijing Olympics in a show of solidarity with Tibet. He is not afraid of the consequences because according to experts, he has enough power, money, and freedom to be unaffected by the lack of movie offers from Hollywood.
Gere firmly believes that the reason for his drop in popularity in Hollywood is solely because of his outspokenness about Tibet and friendship with his teacher, the Dalai Lama. Gere even visited the Dalai Lama recently for a religious Buddhist ceremony that the Tibetan Buddhist leader was conducting in India, giving fresh impetus to speculations that he is greatly devoted to the leader.