“I’m of a certain age where festivals around the world are giving me lifetime achievement awards, and I think it’s a little premature!” the actor, 66, joked. But it turns out that during one particular festival held while he was promoting 2014’s Time Out of Mind, organizers decided to show Pretty Woman, about a businessman (Gere) who falls in love with an escort (Roberts) he hired to accompany him to events.
“They said, ‘We’re going to show it in an amphitheater,’” Gere recalled. When he asked how many people the venue could seat, organizers told him “at least a couple thousand people.” They were maybe just slightly underestimating the interest in the rom-com, which went on to gross $463 million worldwide and earned the then 23-year-old Roberts a Best Actress Oscar nod.
“It was 11 o’clock at night. I drove up from behind, I looked out the curtain from the big amphitheater where the screening was … there were 7,000 people there!” he marveled. “And most of them are under 25 that somehow knew this movie!”
Gere credits the film’s timelessness and generation-spanning success to something that can’t be manufactured. “It’s magic. You can’t program it,” he said. “It had some magic in terms of [Roberts], me, the story, the director … it was the time of our lives, it was a time in the universe, it just happened!”
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