Richard Gere Didn’t Want to Be Called a ‘Sex Symbol,’ Threatened Legal Action if Talk Show Didn’t Remove Label, Says Michael Aspel: ‘He Took Himself Very Seriously’

Richard Gere’s breakout role in 1980’s “American Gigolo” might have made him a household name, but that didn’t mean the actor wanted to be labeled a “sex symbol,” according to veteran British talk show host Michael Aspel.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Aspel recalled Gere’s appearance on his talk show “Aspel and Company” in 1989.

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“When Richard Gere came on the show, I introduced him and at the end I said, and ‘he’s done this, he’s done that,’ and I used the phrase ‘sex symbol,'” Aspel said. “After the interview, we had a phone call from his agent saying if I didn’t remove the sex symbol thing, they were going to take it up with their lawyer.”

Aspel continued, “He would not be known as a sex symbol. It was very odd. But he took himself very seriously because he did a lot of stuff for the people of Tibet.”

After “American Gigolo,” Gere starred in such films as “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Beyond the Limit” and “The Cotton Club” in the 1980s. In 1990, he starred alongside Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”

The actor has also been a prominent advocate for human rights in Tibet since the early ’80s, and co-founded the Tibet House in 1987.

Aspel’s eponymous talk show, which ran from 1984 to 1993 on ITV, featured other celebrity guests including Barbra Streisand, Debbie Harry, Jack Nicholson, Paul McCartney and Bing Crosby. Aspel shared behind-the-scene details to the Daily Mail about several guests, including his interactions with Elizabeth Taylor, “the only person I ever sent a fan letter to,” the talk show host admitted.

Variety has reached out to Gere’s representatives for comment.

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