Actor Richard Gere recently took a role as a homeless man for a film called Time Out of Mind and supposedly walked the streets of New York in costume, completely unnoticed by passersby. But despite his rumored invisibility among the hundreds of others of homeless individuals in the city, a photo of Richard Gere dressed as a homeless man did get noticed and went viral across the web.
The image came with the caption, “When I [Richard Gere] went undercover in New York City as a homeless man, no one noticed me… [If] we can help someone in need, we should. That’s why after I was done, I walked around and gave food and $100 to every homeless person I saw. They cried and were so grateful.”
This week, Richard Gere responded to the viral photo, declaring that most of the caption was almost entirely made up. However, according to ABC News, Richard Gere is using the fame of the image to open up a serious discussion about homelessness, with the intention to generate some kind of positive change.
While the actor is usually a very private celebrity who interacts very little with his fans or the public, Richard Gere used the Facebook fan page of his co-star Jena Malone to get the word out about opening a dialogue on homelessness.
“Hi, Richard Gere here. 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. 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… I’d like you to join me for a conversation on the issue of homelessness and how it impacts your lives.”
See Richard Gere in the Time Out of Mind trailer below.
Richard Gere invited fans to leave questions on Jena Malone’s page for him and Oren Moverman, the director of Time Out of Mind, to answer on Wednesday, October 28. He also asked people to leave their true stories about their experience with homelessness, or loved ones who experienced life as a homeless person.
So far, over 500 comments have been left for Richard Gere to address, many of which take the opportunity to thank the actor for his compassion and interest in the lives of homeless people.
“Richard…the post of your homeless picture truly touched me,” said one Facebook user. “Thank you for taking the time and caring so much about this dire situation. I look forward to Wednesday and would be wiling to do whatever it takes to help these people in this dire situation.”
To some it may seem as though Richard Gere and Jena Malone are using the viral success of the homeless man image to promote the film, Malone claims the movie is extremely important and serves to address the issue of homelessness as well.
However, not everybody was on board with Richard Gere about the homelessness question and answer session. One user pointed out that Gere, being a wealthy celebrity, is in no position to represent homeless people across the United States, and even claimed that the Q&A would turn out to be a disaster.
“Gere is part of the problem, and you’ll find that out when you try to listen in on a non-moderated call to arms with Q&A. It will be a circus. Count me out.”
Do you think Richard Gere is helping homeless people, or is he simply promoting a film? Will you be leaving questions for Richard Gere and Oren Moverman to answer?
[Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images and Cold Iron Pictures]