Justice

Richard Gere Hosts Q&A About Homelessness

October 28th 2015

By:
Diana Crandall

Actor Richard Gere took to Facebook on Wednesday to address the issue of homelessness and explain what happened after a photo of him dressed as a homeless man went viral, accompanied by what the actor calls an “inaccurate” story about him handing out money to homeless people in New York City.

RELATED: Richard Gere Hit New York Streets as a Homeless Man

Although he has no social media presence, he explained, he was struck by the number of responses he saw and the number of people who were touched by it.

“I kind of wonder if there’s something we have in common, and we can work together on that and create a community of responsibility,” Gere said in a Q&A video on 'Out of Mind' costar Jena Malone’s Facebook page.

Richard Gere and Oren Maoverman Facebook Q&A

Hi, Richard and Oren here, We are so sorry for the delay, we ran into a technical difficulty. This was a first for us. We were so happy to speak with you today. Thank you for your heartfelt questions, we look forward to continuing the conversation in an interactive way. Thank you Jena for letting us borrow your page to host this important dialogue.

Posted by Jena Malone on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

So why did this photo appear online?

Richard Gere Portrays a Homeless Man in 'Time Out of Mind'

The viral photo is actually a picture of a character Gere portrayed in the film “Time Out of Mind,” which follows a homeless man who is trying to repair his relationship with his estranged daughter.

Richard Gere False Homeless Story

In the video posted on Facebook Wednesday, "Time Out of Mind" director Oren Moverman explained the unique challenges homeless people face today.

“Everyone is fighting a great battle,” Moverman said.

Participants and fans took the opportunity to share their own stories of homelessness and just how it impacts people.

Responses From Richard Gere's 'Homeless' Q&A

RELATED: The Uncomfortable, Taboo Reason Why Homeless Women Have It Harder

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE HOMELESS?

ATTN: has previously reported that homelessness is a complex issue driven by multiple factors. As of now, the National Alliance to End Homeless reports that in January 2014, approximately 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness by sleeping outside, in an emergency shelter, or in a transitional housing program. The number is so large that for some people, it's hard to conceptualize.

One Facebook question addressed this issue directly, asking Gere: Are people desensitized to the homeless? Gere said yes.

RELATED: Why Everyone Should Be Talking about What This City Is Doing with Homeless Vets

“When I was playing this part, I could feel on the street that I could let my mind go. It wasn’t going to be that hard to go into this space where I just wasn’t part of the social structure anymore, and all of the restraints that are inherent to that…that can dissolve very quickly," Gere said. "It feels like we’re very solid and we know the rules…but we’re only good solid citizens as long as things are going well.”

COULD YOU END UP HOMELESS?

In the Q&A, Gere said that when it comes down to it, we really aren’t all that different.

“I don’t think any of us ultimately is that far away from losing it, especially in the world we’re in today where money doesn’t go as far as it did. This income inequality is something very very real,” Gere said. “None of us are that far away from falling off the cliff, and I think we have to keep our hearts warm to that, and see our brothers and sisters who have fallen off the cliff in a different way: that it’s us, tomorrow.”

RELATED: Reducing Homelessness is Easier Than You Think

"Time Out of Mind" is playing in select theaters around the U.S. If you can’t make it to the screening but still want to view the film, it will be made available for download soon.