Richard Gere tried to change one of the best movie endings ever

Richard Gere was the romantic leading man of the 80s and early 90s, but his movies were often darker and grittier than they seem from their ‘chick-flick’ image.

Richard Gere in An Officer and a GentlemanOne of the best romance movies of the 1980s that had women everywhere swooning was An Officer and a Gentleman, starring the premium heartthrob of the age – Richard Gere. Every woman wanted to swap places with Debra Winger at the end of the movie. She gets literally swept off her feet by Gere when he marches into the factory where she works in his naval officer’s white dress uniform and carries her away in his arms.Gere starred in many sexy and romantic roles during his career in the late 70s and 80s, including Days of Heaven, Yanks, American Gigolo, Breathless, Beyond the Limit, and No Mercy. 1990’s Pretty Woman has a similar romantic ending to An Officer and an Gentleman. It’s a twist on the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, with Gere’s character ‘rescuing’ Julia Roberts on the fire escape of a dingy Hollywood motel. 

When it came to the iconic ending of An Officer and a Gentleman, Gere was resistant and it makes sense if you seen the rest of the film. The film is a fairly gritty drama movie, with Gere as a naval recruit who has a fractious relationship with his drill instructor, and there are some very dark moments.

Gere felt like the ‘fairytale’ ending of An Officer and a Gentleman didn’t fit with the rest of the movie, but it became instantly iconic and is what the movie is famous for. Gere told Entertainment Weekly in 2012; “I argued against it from the beginning. I said, ‘This is bullshit.’ I was trying to make a very real, gritty movie and all the rewrites we did were to keep it grounded in that territory of realism. And that didn’t fit at all — it was such a rave-up ‘movie moment.’”

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“We were in the factory ready to shoot it and I said, ‘We’re going to waste half a day shooting this thing. We’re behind schedule, we’ve got other stuff to do. This is never going to be in the movie.’ I remember Taylor [Hackford, director] said, ‘We’re here, it’s in the script, they expect us to shoot it, let’s just shoot it.’ I was definitely wrong.”

The song Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes became a huge hit, thanks to this scene and it’s been much imitated in pop culture since. But both An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Women are darker movies with grittier themes than their frothy romantic image would imply.

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