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It's a dog's life for Richard Gere

By Chris Betros

Richard Gere gets philosophical when he discusses his latest movie – “Hachi: A Dog’s Story,” which is a transplanted American version of the 1987 Japanese film “Hachiko Monogatari,” about a faithful Akita dog that died at a train station waiting for its master. “The story is more than a dog waiting for his master,” said Gere, 59, this week, on his 8th visit to Japan. “It goes beyond the normal sense of loyalty. It is a connection between two beings. There is no subservience, no master and no dog; rather, they are soul friends.”

Gere, who has been coming to Japan since making “American Gigolo” in 1980, said he never really knew much about Hachiko, which has become part of Japanese folklore. According to the story, Hachiko used to wait every day at Shibuya train station for its master, a professor at the University of Tokyo. After the professor died, the dog still waited every day at the station for a decade, until it died in 1935. In honor of Hachiko, a statue was built outside Shibuya station in 1934. It was melted down during the war, but a new bronze one replaced it in 1948. The site is one of Tokyo’s most popular meeting spots.

Making his first visit to Hachiko, Gere described the moment as very emotional, especially because the sculptor was present. “In fact, when I first read the script about three years ago, I started crying. I read it once more and cried again, so I knew it was something I should take seriously. We tried to make our movie simply and honestly, making sure we were respectful toward the original story. It’s like a fable.”

The original film, which starred Tatsuya Nakadai, earned more than 4 billion yen at theaters across Japan. The new version, whose Japanese title is “Hachi, Yakusoku no Inu,” is set in Rhode Island and directed by Lasse Hallstrom (“The Hoax,” “Chocolat”). Gere plays the professor and Joan Allen his wife.

Three Akita dogs were used in the role of Hachiko and they were the real stars, Gere said. “Akitas are extremely difficult to train. Food and affection won’t work with them. We hired three of the best trainers in America and I think they made more money than I did,” he quipped. “For my first meeting with the dogs, I was told not to even look at them or do anything to try and get them to like me. It took three days before I gained their trust.”

Gere -- who was also producer -- and Hallstrom decided to shoot the film digitally so that the interaction between the star and the dogs could be captured without having to do short takes. “Sometimes, we would shoot up to 10 hours a day, focusing on the dogs, and then I’d just get 10 minutes for my part. I was definitely second-class on this film,” Gere said.

A noted humanitarian on issues ranging from Tibet to AIDS, Gere did not use his meetings with the media to promote any particular cause, as he used to do in the past. In fact, he was more interested in getting the media to loosen up. “In the U.S. and Europe, there is more interaction with reporters,” he said. “But whenever I am in Japan and try to crack jokes, everyone acts like it would be impolite to laugh.” He even tried to mingle with some photographers, but they wouldn’t have any of it, preferring to take his photo. “OK, forget about it,” Gere said, giving up. “I’m outta here. See ya.”

“Hachi: A Dog’s Story” opens in japan on Aug 8.

© Japan Today

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richard gere in another dog of a movie !!

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“OK, forget about it,” Gere said, giving up. “I’m outta here. See ya.”

Way to go! We should do this more!

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Gere has been to Japan enough times to know that Japanese don't like to do anything spontaneously, except possibly run amok.

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Maybe they were afraid he wanted to mingle the way he mingled with Shilpa Shetty.

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Sigh........ Even though he's showing his age, I still adore him. Funny, funny man....

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Wake up Richard. It's well known the shopkeepers in the area fed the dog and this-is-why it kept coming back. Not because of some deep, 'I Rover will never let my master down' consciousness. Hachiko may well have been on a real food roll all those years I'd say.

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woof woof

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hope he is aware of the (drinks) spiking at Roppongi..

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yes nuts, i am convinced after reading your post Mr Gere will decide to wake up..relativity being everything.

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Hachikō was given away after his master's death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. After time, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return. And each day he didn't see his friend among the commuters at the station.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. Realizing that Hachikō waited in vigil for his dead master, their hearts were touched.[original research?] They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for 10 years, with Hachikō appearing only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station. [2]

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First "Shall We Dance", now “Hachi: A Dog’s Story”. Is he specializing now in Hollywood rip-offs of Japanese movies?

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They're not rip-offs, they're re-makes! And darn good ones!

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New Oxford American Dictionary: an inferior imitation of something = rip-off. Concerning inferior: just check out Rotten Tomatoes an American website with American critics.

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Richard Gere still a good actor. He will always be a good actor...

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Others at the station initially thought it was waiting for something else or roaming around but later realized it was waiting for its dead master. So the vendors there used to give some bits of food and water for its unwavering loyalty. But others doubted it and said the dog might have come because of the food the vendors gave for it. If so, then the dog could have come at other times also, but appeared only in the evening time, precisely when the train was due at the station. One of the professor's students was able to document the reason for the dog coming to the station for its master. And the student returned several times over the years and saw the dog appear precisely when the train was due at the station in the evening. He published this fact in one of the Tokyo’s largest newspaper after which the dog became a national figure and everyone were impressed with the loyalty shown by the dog and used it as an example for their children and students to follow.


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Awe man! I should have grabbed my camera and headed his way. I so would've laughed at his jokes and then thrown some back at him. I miss humor in this country.

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