One of Richard Gere’s most iconic roles is as Zack Mayo, a trainee at the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School in ‘80s movie An Officer and a Gentleman. The part-coming of age, part-romance movie focusses on arrogant new recruit Mayo learning some harsh lessons in life: partly from his tumultuous relationship with the strict Sargeant Emil Foley(Louis Gossett Jr), and from his surprising romance with wild townie Paula (Debra Winger).
The widely-praised drama movie led to Gossett earning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — the first Black man to do so — but at one point, his future in the movie seemed contentious after storming off set when a punch scene with Gere went wrong.
“We worked. We were shooting all day. And then I would do an hour or two of karate, also, for the karate sequences in it,” Gere recalled in a 2017 interview with Yahoo. “So I was in incredible shape. I was in Navy SEALs shape in that one.”
However, what was a blessing for Gere also proved to be a curse — because during filming he hit Gossett so hard in the stomach, the latter stormed off set. “I love Lou, but Lou didn’t work as hard as me to learn the karate,” Gere added. “I got a little frustrated with him once and I actually clocked him in the gut. Lou walked off. He said, ‘I’m done. I’m outta here!'”
The good news is, Gossett returned two days later, with the pair later ending up not just resolving their differences, but becoming close friends. If you want to see some more stage-fighting sequences, check out our guides to the best action movies and Cobra Kai season 6.