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THE HOAX

Playing Out The Hoax
Clifford Irving is a charming husband, an affectionate friend and a very smart and talented writer. Clifford Irving is also a philanderer, a betrayer and outright lying fraud. He's a character full of charisma and playful mischief but winds up trapped in a increasingly dark, thick web of his own making. So who could play such a character?

It wasn't long before the filmmakers turned to the idea of Richard Gere, who recently won acclaim for his razzle-dazzle performance as smooth-talking, tap-dancing, Jazz Age attorney Billy Flynn in CHICAGO, a performance which earned him widespread accolades and a Golden Globe. "I've always wanted to work with Richard and he was a perfect fit for this character,” says Lasse Hallström. Continues Leslie Holleran: "Clifford Irving is the consummate seducer. He's the kind of person who walks into the room and charms everyone. So, in a sense he's an actor, and I think Richard really understood this completely. He knew who this character was and it was as though he was channeling him.”

Gere found himself wrapped up in the story from the get-go. "It was one of those rare scripts where you go, ‘wow that's really interesting and fresh.' I was intrigued by the idea that this story was about being a fake on all kinds of levels – a personal level, a psychological level, a political level. Also, I thought the script really captured the schizophrenia of that time in America, and the coming together of all these elements of that period – the New York publishing industry and Watergate and Nixon and Vietnam and Pop Art – in a wonderful way that just called out to be made,” he says.

Once Gere committed to playing Clifford Irving, he jumped in at a sprint, even changing his physical appearance for the role. "Richard completely and utterly threw himself into the role and made it is his own,” says producer Josh Maurer. "It was an extraordinary thing to watch an actor of Richard's stature take on and completely become this very different character.”

Mark Gordon adds: "Richard brought an enormous amount to the table and I think will surprise people because they've never seen him do a role like this before. Clifford is an incredibly charming guy, but not in the way we think of Richard being charming. He's funny and outrageous.”

In approaching the role, Gere made the decision not to meet with the real Clifford Irving – especially because the film isn't a biopic but a playfully fictional account of Clifford's hoax. To put it succinctly, Gere worries that Clifford Irving, hoaxster that he has been know to be, could get in the way of finding the truth of the role. "I didn't want to meet him,” he admits. "I was kind of afraid, actually. I had a strong idea of how I wanted to do this and I didn't want to be overly influenced by his point of view on what happened. I didn't want any constraints at all. I wanted to let my imagination go while I was doing it, and that's what I hooking into.”

Gere found that he could relate in some ways to Irving's predicament at the outset of the story, as a man in search of great material. "As a writer, he's always waiting for that next deal, so he has the same insecurity that an actor does where you do a project but you never know if there's ever going to be another one,” he explains.

But what fascinated Gere most was how carried away Irving became once he decided to pretend to know Howard Hughes. "The idea started out maybe as a comment on fame, as a kind of Pop Art, as a pointed game, but the more people buy into it the more real it becomes to Clifford. Psychologically, he crosses the line,” says Gere. "Howard Hughes was the perfect subject, too, because he was so deeply mysterious. People made up all kinds of stories about him as this mad mystic or conspirator – some crazy, some perhaps true. There was a romance around all of this that Clifford

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