Audiences couldn’t get enough of the romance of An Officer and a Gentleman when it hit theaters in 1982, but behind the scenes, the film’s two leads were far from amorous with each other. Debra Winger and Richard Gere didn’t get along on the film’s set, and Winger didn’t have kind things to say about his co-star after it was all over. That said, in the years that have passed since the movie was released, the actors have been able to get over their issues and even joke about the tension they had between them. Read on to learn more about this Hollywood rivalry.
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It has been widely reported that Winger said Gere was like a “brick wall” to work with.
“The only remarks that have ever been printed are the ones that ruffled some feathers,” Winger told The Guardian of the couple in 2002.
Gere and Winger’s co-star Louis Gossett Jr. confirmed the friction between them in his book, An Actor and a Gentleman. “The onscreen chemistry between the two was fantastic, but it was a different story when the camera was turned off,” he wrote (via ABC News). They couldn’t have been more distant from each other.”
During a 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Winger shared that the Officer and a Gentleman set was not his favorite to work on, but not because of Gere.
“When pigs are involved, when there are bad men running the show, they tend to take the fun out of it,” she explained. “Officer and a Gentleman was not so much the director [Taylor Hackford]but we had bad men running the show and it kind of messed up the water.”
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Winger has said on more than one occasion that she and Gere are on good terms now and have a sense of humor about their past tension.
“I meet Richard Gere a lot and he kind of jokes, ‘Are you still saying terrible things about me?'” she told The Guardian. “We had a time in our life that wasn’t good, but everyone has to put it in perspective.”
The actor shared a similar anecdote on Watch What Happens Live. “I met him recently, about a year ago at the Guggenheim,” Winger said. “He said, ‘You still say [expletive] things about me?’ And I said, ‘I never said [expletive] things about you’, which I probably did, but I didn’t mean it. And then we laughed.”
In 2011, Gere received a lifetime achievement award at the Rome Film Festival, which was presented to him by Winger. She thanked him for “all his kindnesses over the years” and called him a “great human citizen of the world”.
Gere mentioned the award and their reunion in an interview with Film Festival Traveler in 2012. “I hadn’t seen her in a long, long time. It was nice to see her there,” he said.
He also praised her as an actress. “She has a really interesting quality,” he said. “It’s really hard to be so open and unprotected and nice. You know, a nice person and a genuine person and a real heart on camera. That’s not an easy thing to do. She’s capable of doing that. I could never be.” like that. I was very complicated. There were a lot of things going on. Just direct presence is an extremely difficult thing to do.
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