It has been three decades since Richard Gere was banned from appearing at the Academy Awards as a presenter over his off-script political comments.
The Pretty Woman star condemned the Chinese government for occupying Tibet while taking the stage to present an award during the 1993 Oscars ceremony. Gere’s comments were deemed controversial at the time.
Last year, Will Smith took the entertainment industry by storm after slapping Chris Rock onstage at the 94th Academy Awards following the latter’s G.I. Joe joke on Jada Pinkett Smith. This led to the King Richard star being banned from the Academy for the next 10 years.
Other celebrities banned from the Academy Awards include Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, and Carmine Caridi.
The Oscars 2023 is all set to take place at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 12, 2023. Like every other year, the event will bring together Hollywood’s most prominent stars under one roof. However, there are also several actors who will continue to be barred from attending one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the world.
What did Richard Gere say at the 1993 Oscars ceremony?
Back in 1993, Richard Gere was banned from the Oscars for 20 years after going off-script and denouncing the Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet while presenting an award.
The Pretty Woman actor was onstage to present the Oscar Award for Art Direction and was reportedly given a script to jokingly compare artists like Michelangelo and Monet to art directors. However, Gere ignored the script and used his speech to criticize the Chinese government for its occupation of Tibet.
He also called out Deng Xiaoping, the late leader of the Chinese Communist Party, and asked the audience to send “love, truth and sanity” to the leader so he can take away his troops and allow Tibetan people to live freely and independently once again:
“With the knowledge of the horrendous human rights situation in China and Tibet, I wonder every day if we could send love, truth and sanity to Deng Xiaoping. Right now in Beijing, if maybe he will take his troops, get them out of Tibet and allow these people to go back to living as free and independent people.”
Richard Gere’s comments were reportedly considered highly controversial at the time and the actor was banned from attending the Oscars for 20 years. However, the Academy reportedly failed to enforce the ban as Gere was seen attending the 2003 Oscars when his musical film Chicago won the Oscar Award for Best Picture.
The American Gigolo actor was even invited back as a presenter for the show in 2013. Speaking about going back to the Oscars, Gere told the Huffington Post in 2013 that he was “apparently rehabilitated”:
“It seems if you stay around long enough, they forget they’ve banned you.”
Richard Gere is a practicing Tibetan Buddhist and was a regular visitor to Dharamshala. He also serves as an advocate for human rights in Tibet and is the co-founder of Tibet House US.
The actor also created the Gere Foundation and served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Campaign for Tibet. He was allegedly banned from entering China as a supporter of the Tibetan Independence Movement.