I’m so pleased he received a Golden Globe nomination, and I’d like to see him get recognized by the Academy. No matter how many times I hear this factoid, I have to peruse his IMDb resume again to convince myself that he’s never been nominated for an Oscar.
It’s weird. Richard will be the first to tell you that he’s probably what he would call quote-unquote a very reactive actor. He plays off the energy of the other people, and it’s really a beautiful thing to see – it’s almost like a ballet when you’re directing it. So I think he makes other actors look really good, which you want. [Editors note: True. Gere's co-stars from five of his biggest films have been nominated for Oscars.] But because he doesn’t always go with the big, showy scenery-chewing, it’s easy for him to get occasionally overlooked. But I think that despite the competitiveness of this year and the amount of terrific performances that exist, I really think Richard did something special, and of course it would be an honor to have him recognized by his peers. But hey, if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. We had a blast doing it. This movie is now approaching $50 million in [global] gross. Given that we made it for a little over $10 million, that’s a great success.
Speaking of actors being overlooked, I haven’t heard Tim Roth mentioned at all for awards. But he’s so fun to watch as the police detective. Just the way he sits in a chair is fascinating.
That’s another one I’d love to take credit for, but I can’t. That’s why I love the rehearsal process so much: Tim came in and he really had a take and an idea for this character. I had a different idea that I had originally written in the script: this much more plodding, methodical cop; he’s sitting in the office moving the chess pieces. But when he came in, he had this all worked out. He was like, “What is this sh-t? I’m not sitting back in the office! I’m out on the street! I don’t give a f–k who these people are! Let’s do a scene with Sarandon! I’m not going to call her! I’ll confront her!” So that scene got written during rehearsal and we filmed it. He came in with this pit-bull ferocity, and then coupled it with this insane, ridiculous posture. I just think it’s a delight. He really made something.
Maria Bartiromo of CNBC stars as herself in the opening moments in the movie, and in an extended version of the scene available on the Blu-ray, she and Robert Miller discuss Bernie Madoff, who's frequently mentioned as the inspiration for your protagonist. Was it too on-the-nose? Is that why it got cut?
With regards to Madoff, the films that I love are timeless. I just thought, it’s Bernie Madoff today, tomorrow it will be someone else. Like UBS, who’s now paying $1.5 billion to settle price fixing on LIBOR. That conspiracy makes Bernie look like little three-card monte guy. So, just not to date it. And Maria was wonderful. I actually wrote her into the script, but I originally thought we were going to make the film for $50,000 in some remote corner of New Jersey so I’d planned on getting some great extra who looked like Maria Bartiromo. I finally called her and she said, “I’d love to do it.” And not only that, she came over to my apartment and helped me rewrite the whole scene, based upon all her interviews with world leaders. So, she’s awesome.
You sold Arbitrage at Sundance earlier this year, and by any criteria, it's turned into a success. Will you find a reason to head back to Utah next month?
It’s the premier place for independent film, and I’ve gone the last six years running. It’s a beautiful cultural platform for the exchange of ideas; those are movies you really wouldn’t see anywhere else. What Redford and all those guys have done there is nothing short of remarkable. My reason to come out there [this year] is pure entertainment. The reason not to go there is my lazy ass should be writing my script.
This is Fuel...?
Yeah. It’s set in Los Angeles, and could be very cool, I think. It’s a modern noir. It’s a story of a young man. He’s a surveillance guy and he gets in over his head in a world of conspiracies about alternative energy and beautiful electric cars. This is my eighth month working on the script, and it can be maddening, but we’ll hopefully do it next year, probably towards the end of the year.