Richard Gere says he took his career defining role as a male escort in American Gigolo because of the movie's gay subtext.
The Hollywood superstar became a pin-up with both women and gay men after playing hustler Julian in the 1980 thriller, written and directed by Paul Schrader.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 63-year-old actor says he was only given a day to decide whether he wanted to take the part which involved full frontal nudity.
'Paul came to see me in Malibu and said, "You've got to say yes to this by tomorrow at the latest",' Gere said.
'I read it and I thought, "This is a character I don't know very well. I don't own a suit. He speaks languages; I don't speak any languages. There's kind of a gay thing that's flirting through it and I didn't know the gay community at all."
'I wanted to immerse myself in all of that and I had literally two weeks. So I just dove in. If I recall, [the nudity] wasn't in the script. It was just in the natural process of making the movie. I certainly felt vulnerable, but I think it's different for men than women.'
Gere has played gay characters before, most notably on the Broadway stage in drama Bent.
Watch the trailer for American Gigolo below: