Actor Richard Gere weighed in on President Donald Trump’s recent executive action on immigration Friday at the Berlin International Film Festival, where he blasted the president’s decision to temporarily prohibit immigration from some countries and accused him of being a leader who “stimulates fear.”
The 67-year-old actor — in town for the premiere of his latest film, The Dinner — called for unity, even as he reportedly said he wouldn’t attend a hypothetical dinner with President Trump.
“The number of hate crimes went up enormously as soon as Donald Trump started running for president, in the United States and in Europe,” Gere told an audience at the festival, according to Deadline.
“Unfortunately, we have leaders that stimulate fear, and that fear causes us to do really terrible things. I think that’s part of what we’re talking about in the film. We have to be really careful how we talk to each other and characterize each other. The most horrible thing Trump has done is conflate the terms refugee and terrorist. It means the same thing in the U.S. now. A refugee used to be someone who you had empathy for, who you wanted to help and give refuge to. Now we’re afraid of them. We have to really understand what he and this conservative movement has done and not forget we’re all in this together. We can’t escape each other’s realities. We have to embrace each other and love each other.”
In The Dinner, Gere plays ambitious politician Stan Lohman, who — together with his wife (Rebecca Hall), brother (Steve Coogan) and his brother’s wife (Laura Linney) — must decide what to do when their children are caught up in a heinous, race-related crime.
At the panel for the film, Coogan also got in a jab at Trump when he was asked whether his character, Paul Lohman, suffers from mental illness: “Yes, he does have a mental illness. But compared with the president of the United States, it looks like a mild headache.”
The 67th annual Berlinale kicked off this week and runs until February 18. The Dinner will compete with 17 other films for the festival’s top Golden Bear prize.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum