He’s not actually Jewish – but Richard Gere told a Miami newspaper that he considers himself an “honorary Jew” ahead of the premiere of Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, in which he plays the Jewish titular character.
Speaking to the Miami New Times, Mr Gere said he considered himself “an honorary Jew” because he’s “a New Yorker”. Asked about whether, as someone not actually Jewish, he had been cautious playing the part, he said he had asked Joseph Cedar, the film’s Israeli director, that very question.
“I asked Joseph, ‘Why me?’ Why would he want me to do this,” Mr Gere told the New Times.
“There certainly are super-talented Jewish actors who would knock this out of the park. So why me? He said, ‘Because you're not Jewish. I want you to find something different.’ The more we talked about it, the more I was up to the challenge.”
The character, Norman, is one familiar in the wide-ranging pantheon of Jewish personalities. He’s the older man whom everyone knows and who knows everyone. He’s the would-be fixer with some sort of get-rich-quick scheme always buzzing around somewhere in the background.
In this instance, however, an act of generosity from Norman to a junior Israeli politician has significant ramifications when that politician goes on to become the Israeli Prime Minister, and Norman suddenly finds himself with a direct line to a world leader. Chaos ensues, as Norman discovers that continuing to act in the same old wheeler-dealer fashion has consequences when you’re perceived to have powerful and influential friends.
The film is due to be the first shown at the Miami Film Festival, which opens this weekend.