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March 1, 2017 3:26 pm

‘I’m a New Yorker, So I’m an Honorary Jew,’ Says Actor Richard Gere About Title Role of ‘Norman’ in Upcoming Film

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Richard Gere in "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer." Photo: Sony Pictures Classics.

Richard Gere in “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.” Photo: Sony Pictures Classics.

Movie star and activist Richard Gere told the Miami New Times on Tuesday that he considers himself an “honorary Jew” by virtue of his living in New York.

Talking about his upcoming film “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” — in which he plays a bumbling Jewish guy from the Big Apple who inadvertently gets mixed up in Israeli politics — Gere said he first questioned writer-director Joseph Cedar’s decision to cast a gentile in the title role, but was later persuaded that he could bring “something different” to the character than a Jewish actor.

Gere said that when he first met Cedar three years ago, “I told him: ‘If you ever have a project about the Middle East, I’m there.’ Soon after that, he came to me with this.”

Gere recounted Cedar coaching him for the part, saying he wanted Norman to be “a universal character that spoke to the Jewish narrative and Jewish experience of never being able to express anger. You need friends around you. You can’t burn bridges. You’re always looking for protection and safety and blending in, being accepted but not noticed.”

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Gere said that though he has never played a character like that, “What I’m realizing is that everyone has a Norman in their life. Every time I talk about [him], I get a nod from people, ‘Oh yeah.’ Whether it is a distant cousin, there’s someone in their life who is trying to get in and you don’t know who they really are. You don’t know their history; they’re the brunt of a joke. I guess I found my inner Norman, the part that always wanted to be him.”

The film premieres Friday on the first night of the Miami Film Festival and opens in theaters on April 14.

Watch the trailer for “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” below:

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  • Mark_NYC

    I’ve read comments online to the effect that Gere is considered one of the celebrities who is in the anti-Israel camp, I assume because of his past attitudes toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I hope that is wrong, since I’ve always admired his work.

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