April 14, 2024

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Richard Gere pays tribute to his “The Officer and a Gentleman” star, Louis Gossett Jr

Richard Gere pays tribute to his “The Officer and a Gentleman” star, Louis Gossett Jr

Richard Gere issued a tribute to him Officer and gentleman Actor Louis Gossett Jr., who just died at the age of 87.

In the film, Gossett played Sergeant Emil Foley, the drill instructor who shaped the character of Gear Zack Mayo in the 1982 film.

The film earned Gossett an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and he became the first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

“He remained in character the whole time,” Gere, 74, recalled in a statement. “I don't think we ever saw him social. He was a sergeant 24 hours a day, and it showed in his performance. He commanded every scene he was in.”

Gere said Gossett was “a tough guy with a heart of gold,” adding: “We were all so proud of him when he won the Oscar.”

Director Taylor Hackford also issued a statement expressing his “admiration” for Gossett's stage work.

“Sargent Foley, played by Lou Gossett, was probably the first black character in American cinema to have absolute power over white characters,” says Hackford, 79. “The Academy recognized his outstanding performance by voting for him for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He certainly deserved it.”

Gossett's character was originally written as a white man, but Hackford said that changed after the director visited the Naval Officers' Flying Training Center in Pensacola, Florida, where he learned that “many of the drill instructors were men of color.”

“I found it interesting that Black and Brown enlisted men had tie-breaking control over whether white college graduates became officers and fighter pilots,” Hackford explains. “At that moment I changed Sargent Foley's profile and started meeting actors of color.”

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