BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Entertainment
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Saturday, 14 October, 2000, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Gere gets clinical
Richard Gere in Dr T & the Women
Gere - with Shelley Long - plays a gynaecologist ruled by the women in his life
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

Richard Gere has played many roles in his 25-year screen career but never before has he portrayed a gynaecologist - as he does in Dr T & the Women, opening in the US this weekend.

Director Robert Altman's mild new satire is set amid the moneyed world of Dallas women who don't work but dress up to the nines and spend nearly all their time shopping.

Farah Fawcett
Farah Fawcett plays one of Dr T's socialite clients

Gere is Dr Sullivan Travis, whose medical practice is a non-stop hive of female activity.

The rich women of Dallas meet at his clinic to gossip, complain and argue while they wait to make use of his professional services.

For the 51-year-old charismatic Gere, playing a gynaecologist required restraint.

Gere says the challenge was "acknowledging sexual energy but not engaging it". He describes his character as "totally there for women as a healer, and as a friend".

Magical effect

Altman's latest work, which stars an ensemble cast that includes Helen Hunt, Shelley Long, Farrah Fawcett and Laura Dern, deals with sexual politics.

It centres on Dr T's all female world, not just in the workplace but at home - as a family man with a mentally-disturbed wife, alcoholic sister-in-law and daughters.

Helen Hunt
Oscar-winning Hunt makes a welcome return

Dr T is used to calling the shots. Ostensibly he worships the opposite sex but, over the course of the movie, the women in his life begin to confound his expectations and his world starts to spin out of control.

With its ensemble cast, elements of social satire and overlapping dialogue, Dr T & the Women bears many of the hallmarks of an Altman film.

It was Gere's first experience of working with a director whose classics include M*A*S*H, Nashville and The Player. The actor describes Altman as an eclectic director.

"He is totally secure in being the director and very clear about what he wants, at the same time he appears to be a total flake and doesn't know what he is doing at all which makes everyone play," says Gere.

He also regards Altman as a kind of shaman who has an almost magical effect on actors.

"As soon as you get around Bob you start behaving in a different way, in a kind of heightened realism that has a very relaxed quality," Gere comments.


Altman collaborated with screenwriter Anne Rapp to create this portrait of rich Dallas women.

Altman believes there is a similar subculture in most big cities, a stratum of women who "don't work and don't really do anything because their husbands don't let them".

Richard Gere in Dr T & the Women
Gere has matured as an actor in middle-aged

Altman says he doesn't necessarily see his film as a critique of a patriarchal culture.

However, he concedes that in this world "the women can't move but the man can go away while the women stay and nurture the children".

He believes that many of these non-working women "end up shopping, having parties and doing all that trivial stuff".

Gere's character ultimately undergoes a transformation as result of the women in his life failing to fulfil his view of their pre-determined roles.

The actor claims Dr T is radically transformed and eventually re-born.

Compared to some Altman classics, like Nashville and The Player, there is a weakness in Dr T & the Women.

It is extremely well observed but the analysis of Dr T's view of women remains superficial. It lacks real insight and he is portrayed in more benign terms than he deserves.

But on the plus side, the film contains some really strong acting. Gere, who has performed unevenly in his career, seems to have found his métier as Dr T.

His on screen presence lacks the cocky arrogance that has often marred his previous work.

If Dr T is anything to go by, the middle-aged Gere has found a new maturity that could lead to some more nuanced and stronger performances.

Dr T & the Women comes to the UK next year.

Richard Gere
The actor talks gynaecology with Tom Brook
See also:

22 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Altman film opens Sundance
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories