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Richard Gere Fondly Remembers Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentlemen

Richard Gere Fondly Remembers Louis Gossett Jr. in An Officer and a Gentlemen


  • Richard Gere remembers his
    An Officer and a Gentleman
    co-star as “a tough guy with a heart of gold.”
  • The director of the romantic drama, Taylor Hackford, praised Gossett Jr.’s groundbreaking performance.
  • An Officer and a Gentleman
    was a massive box office hit, making over $129 million globally against a mere $6-million budget.

Richard Gere remembers his An Officer and a Gentleman co-star, the late Louis Gossett Jr., as an actor who possessed “a heart of gold.” Gere portrayed the romantic drama’s lead protagonist, Zack Mayo, while Gossett Jr.’s hard-to-love drill sergeant, Emil Foley, was tasked with whipping the young Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) newcomer into shape. Gere said in a statement (per Deadline):

“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. [He was] a tough guy with a heart of gold. We were all so proud of him when he won his Oscar.”

Gossett Jr. became the first Black man to win the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award thanks to his riveting performance as Sgt. Foley in An Officer and a Gentleman. And it was a year loaded with worthy Best Supporting Oscar nominees, which included James Mason (The Verdict), John Lithgow (The World According to Garp), Charles Durning (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), and Robert Preston (Victor/Victoria).

An Officer and a Gentleman Director Remembers Louis Gossett Jr.

Prior to his death at the age of 87, Louis Gossett Jr. appeared in the “lavish and soul-stirring musical adaptation,” The Color Purple. During the course of his illustrious career, not only did Gossett Jr. win an Oscar, but he also collected a couple of Emmys (Daytime award as an executive producer for In His Father’s Shoes & Primetime as a lead actor for Roots). But 42 years ago, it was director Taylor Hackford who guided the actor in his Oscar-winning performance for An Officer and a Gentleman. And like co-collaborator Richard Gere, Hackford wasn’t at a loss for words when it came time to remember Gossett Jr. Hackford said in a statement, also courtesy of Deadline:

“Lou Gossett’s Sargent Foley may have been the first Black character in American cinema to have absolute authority over white characters. The Academy recognized his consummate performance by voting him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He definitely deserved it.”



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While An Officer and a Gentleman might not rate as one of Richard Gere’s best movies for every Gere-head, there’s no denying Gossett Jr.’s performance contributed to the success of the classic romantic drama. The film registers a 79% on the Tomatometer and holds an audience score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Meanwhile, An Officer and a Gentleman was a huge success at the box office, which made $129.8 million worldwide during its theatrical release against a production budget of only $6 million (per The Numbers). In fact, in 1982, only four films made more money domestically than An Officer and a Gentleman: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ($315 million), Raiders of the Lost Ark ($190 million), Rocky III ($124 million) and On Golden Pond ($118.7 million).

An Officer and a Gentleman
is available to stream on
at the time of this writing. Max also streams
, one of Gossett’s final performances and one of his best.

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