Richard Gere Pays Tribute to 'An Officer and a Gentleman' Co-Star Louis Gossett Jr.

Reflecting on an Iconic Role and Historic Oscar Win.

by Nouman Rasool
Richard Gere Pays Tribute to 'An Officer and a Gentleman' Co-Star Louis Gossett Jr.
© Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

In a heartfelt homage, Richard Gere has expressed his deep respect and admiration for his late co-star, Louis Gossett Jr., who recently passed away at the age of 87. Gossett Jr., celebrated for his role as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley in the critically acclaimed 1982 film "An Officer and a Gentleman," left an indelible mark on both the film and his colleagues, particularly Gere, who starred alongside him as Zack Mayo.

Gossett Jr.' s portrayal of the stern yet deeply principled drill instructor earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, marking a historic moment as he became the first Black actor to receive the accolade in this category.

Reflecting on their time together on set, Gere, now 74, shared insights into Gossett Jr.' s commitment to his role, noting, "He stayed in character the whole time. I don’t think we ever saw him socially. He was the drill sergeant 24-hours a day, and it showed clearly in his performance.

He drove every scene he was in."

Gossett Jr.' s Legacy Celebrated

Describing Gossett Jr. as "a tough guy with a heart of gold," Gere expressed the collective pride felt by the cast and crew when Gossett Jr. clinched the Oscar.

The impact of Gossett Jr.' s performance extended beyond the screen, with director Taylor Hackford also lauding the actor's exceptional stage work and his groundbreaking portrayal of Sergeant Foley. Hackford highlighted the significance of Gossett Jr.'

s character, stating, "Lou Gossett's Sergeant Foley may have been the first Black character in American cinema to have absolute authority over white characters." Hackford, aged 79, further delved into the casting process, revealing that Gossett Jr.'

s character was initially envisioned as a white man. This perspective shifted following Hackford's visit to the Navy Officers Flight Training Center in Pensacola, Florida, where he observed that many drill instructors were men of color.

Inspired by this realization, Hackford adjusted the casting profile for Sergeant Foley, ultimately leading to Gossett Jr.' s iconic performance. This decision not only enriched the film's narrative but also underscored the diverse realities within the military, offering audiences a more nuanced and inclusive portrayal of leadership and authority.