Movie Sneaks

Richard Gere checks in for 'Exotic Marigold Hotel' sequel

Richard Gere jumped at the chance to work with a cast of British titans in 'The Second Best Marigold Hotel'

One of the funniest moments in "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" arrives as an American named Guy, played by Richard Gere, enters the dining room at the Indian getaway setting to a decidedly appreciative audience.

"Lordy Lord, have mercy on my ovaries," proclaims Madge, played by Celia Imrie.

"I am new blood probably more than anything else," mused Gere, 65, by phone about his role.

Due in theaters March 6, the movie is a sequel to 2012's indie dramedy about seven British pensioners who travel to India to retire at eccentric hotel run by an eager young man (Dev Patel) — the original became a breakout hit earning $135 million worldwide.

Directed — like its predecessor — by John Madden, the Fox Searchlight sequel sees Patel's Sonny preparing for his marriage to Sunaina (Tena Desae) while attempting to buy a property to expand the hotel franchise. Evelyn (Judi Dench) and Douglas (Bill Nighy) have joined the work force in Jaipur, while Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) are struggling to maintain an exclusive relationship.

Madge is juggling two wealthy suitors, and the acerbic Muriel (Maggie Smith) is now co-manager of the hotel.

"I am a little shady about exactly what I am doing there," said Gere of his role. "I am vaguely a writer. The added thing of having an American there shakes it up a bit."

Gere said he was intrigued by the chance to work with the cast of British acting titans — he said he has known Smith for more than 30 years and even worked with Nighy once before, in 1979's "Yanks."

"That's why I wanted to do it — to hang out with these guys," Gere said. "It was a really good script, a charming script — and hopefully touching. When I got there everyone was energized by the script and what would we be exploring in this one."

An added draw for the actor-producer, a Buddhist, was the opportunity to explore Jaipur, where the movie was shot.

"I had been there several times but not just hanging-out time," he said. "I am usually in the north or over in the east or closer to the mountains. It was incredibly beautiful. We all chose to stay in the funkier hotels. It was just fun. I think everyone enjoyed themselves."

Twitter: @mymackie

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