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Richard Gere made up his own version of tap dancing for this movie

When Richard Gere was invited to be part of the musical Chicago in 2002, he'd never really sang or danced in a movie before, so he had to improvise.

Richard Gere

When Richard Gere was cast in 2002’s Best Picture winning Chicago, it was the first musical in his long career. Despite Gere’s lack of experience with both singing and dancing, he managed to make the character of Billy Flynn work and gets one of the best numbers in the whole movie – We Both Reached for the Gun. Along with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah, Gere helped make Chicago one the best musicals released since the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Gere isn’t completely without musical talent – as he can play several instruments, including trumpet (as seen in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club) and piano (as seen in one of the best romance movies, Pretty Woman). But he hadn’t really danced before, and the role in Chicago required tap-dancing.

In 2012, Gere explained to EW; “In the script it was written, ‘He tap-dances.’ I said, ‘Great, I want to make this work. But I don’t know how to tap.’ Rob [Marshall, director] said, ‘You’ll get it! And if you don’t, we’ll do something else.’ I had a wonderful tap teacher [Cynthia Onrubia] who worked with me every single day. She wasn’t going to make me a tap dancer in eight weeks.”

Gere continued; “But what she did that was really smart was she said, ‘Do what you think is tap dancing.’ I’d shuffle around and some things would happen that actually felt kind of good. And she would go, ‘Okay, let’s go with that.’ So I muscled through it.”

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Gere obviously enjoyed the experience of dancing in Chicago, as two years later he starred in Shall We Dance – where he spends the movie ballroom dancing with Jennifer Lopez. Gere’s most recent movie was rom-com Maybe I Do, co-starring Diane Keaton, William H. Macy, and Susan Sarandon.

Check out our guide to the best feel-good movies.