Richard Gere walks on the red carpet during the 9th Rome Film Festival on Oct. 19, 2014 in Rome, Italy. 
Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Richard Gere ‘completely surprised’ by viral ‘homeless’ photo

Richard Gere is using social media to broaden a conversation about homelessness after a photo of him playing a homeless man for a movie role went viral.

The photo, which was originally posted by a Facebook fan page pretending to be Gere, claimed the 66-year-old actor handed out food and money to the homeless after going undercover. Gere used his Time Out of Mind co-star Jena Malone’s Facebook page on Monday to address the partially fabricated story.

“Hi, Richard Gere here,” the award-winning actor wrote on Malone’s page. “I was completely surprised to find that last week someone posted a photo of me on a Facebook fan page as a homeless man on the streets of New York that drew 1.6 million likes and over a half-a-million shares. While the story that accompanied the photograph was somewhat fictional (especially the $100 hand-outs), it seemed to have touched something important in people. I’d like to find out what that is and what we can do together to make something good and meaningful happen for our homeless brothers and sisters.”

The actor will hold a Q&A session on homelessness and its effects on people’s lives this Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET on Malone’s Facebook page. He will be joined by his Time Out of Mind director, Oren Moverman.

Hi, Richard Gere here. I was completely surprised to find that last week someone posted a photo of me on a Facebook fan…

Posted by Jena Malone on Monday, October 26, 2015

Time Out of Mind stars the “Pretty Woman” heartthrob as a homeless and mentally ill man who attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, played by Malone. Moverman explained in a recent interview with the New York Daily News that the scenes of Gere panhandling on the streets of New York City were filmed with a camera staged inside of a nearby Starbucks to keep the actor from being recognized.

“I could tell when people from two blocks away had made a judgment about me on the corner. Just by the vibe I was giving off and the fact that I was standing still in a city that’s always moving,” Gere told Entertainment Weekly last month. “I wasn’t harassing anyone. I had a coffee cup but I wasn’t shaking it in front of people’s faces. But people are used to making judgments about situations, consciously and subconsciously, from two blocks away. And from that far away they’d make the decision not to engage.”

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Richard Gere 'completely surprised' by viral 'homeless' photo