After watching him sweep countless movie heroines off their feet in films like Pretty Woman and An Officer And A Gentleman, it's a relief to find out that actor Richard Gere is a romantic in real life.
"I think all of us are romantic," he says.
"Some people closer than others - at different times of their lives. We all have incredibly yearning hearts. I've never seen anyone who gave up on looking for love in my life - even my suicidal friends. We are all learning towards love in our own ways. And I don't think that ever stops."
Richard, who describes the most romantic place in the world as "anywhere my wife (actress Carey Lowell) is," stars in the new romantic drama Nights In Rodanthe, based on yet another bestselling book by the tearjerker author of The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks.
The film is his third appearance opposite actress Diane Lane - the pair worked together in 2002's critically acclaimed film Unfaithful and Frances Ford Coppola's 1984 drama The Cotton Club.
"What's funny is we don't actually talk to each other at all," admits Richard.
"We have almost no relationship outside of making movies. We talk to each other on the phone, maybe once or twice a year. And every 10 years or so, we'll make a movie. It's very intense and we're right in each other's space, hearts and minds. Then we move on, and 10 years later, we do it again. It's a peculiar relationship we have. Thank God we have wonderful marriages."
In the film Richard plays Dr Paul Flanner, a surgeon who is the only guest at a beachside inn in remote Rodanthe, North Carolina. He ends up falling for Adrienne, who is managing the inn to help out a friend for the weekend. A recently separated mother of two, Adrienne is still dealing with her husband's betrayal and the recent news that he wants to return home. One thing leads to another, and the weekend in Rodanthe ends up being the couple's second chance at love.
Richard and Diane have an innate chemistry on screen, but he says it's not easy to explain.
"I don't think art comes out of rational work," he says.
"It allows some kind of mysterious communication to happen and hopefully some of it ends up on film. I won't tell you which ones, but I've made films that were extremely successful with women that I didn't get along with at all - we could barely talk to each other.
"It's funny, there's a film I made - I think it's the most successful film I made, Pretty Woman. That movie works on some quirky level," he adds.
"And it's really simple. There have been 150 movies which have tried to do that since, but they can't do it. There are certain unknown mysterious qualities which happen in adult romances. You can't necessarily write it. It has to be the chemistry of the people. I don't know if the other films Diane and I have done - if they were with other people - they would have worked. Much of it is the fact that sometimes, there's this thing between us."
Richard acknowledges that it's unusual to see movies starring people over the age of 40 in the lead roles these days - but he has a relaxed attitude to Hollywood's obsession with youth.
"Most of the movie-going public is under 22 probably - so that's the obvious answer," he says.
"But I think in the larger sense - if the scripts were there, these kinds of films would find a way of getting made. If you can't make them for 50 million dollars, you make them for 15 million. And so the necessity of having a mass market isn't there."
At 59, the actor is fortunate to have tackled many different genres - from his famous romantic dramas, to Oscar-winning musical Chicago, and last year's ensemble indie hit I'm Not There.
"When someone makes me do it, and I look back through my career, I see I've done lots of different types of movies I like," he says.
"But there's still quite a few I haven't done, and maybe I'll get a shot at before I die. It's the violent ones that I probably have no interest in whatsoever. Even a film like The Jackal, which I was happy with my work in, had gone over the violent edge for me. I probably wouldn't do another movie like that again."
Like his character, Richard also found love a second time round with his model-turned-actress wife Carey Lowell. They have one son, Homer, named after Richard's father, who is now eight. Despite the long hours and demands of the job, he says his family are his "priority".
"My priorities are my wife and kids for sure - I hope they are for everybody else," he says.
"I have a very balanced life. It's not all about movies and it's not all about acting. This is a great job we have - an incredible job. I'm incredibly thankful for it and I acknowledge that every day - the kind of life that I've been able to live because of it. I don't over estimate in terms of what it means in the universe.
"We're living the dream, but we have to know that we are," he adds.
"We can never take this for granted, in any way whatsoever, and that's for all of us to realise. That in our own ways, we can give back a lot, depending on what we do. We're in this as working people who care about the universe."
Giving back to society has been a passion for Richard since he developed an interest in Tibet in his 20s. He has since set up The Gere Foundation which contributes to Tibetan charities, although his outspoken views have got him into trouble in the past - he was banned from being an Oscars presenter after criticising China's occupation of the country.
"China is this really interesting situation," he says earnestly.
"They want to be part of the vision for the new world and they have one foot in that world. And they have one very stubborn leg stuck in the old world which is repression and human rights abuses and a mindset which is prone towards violence and not listening to the needs and concerns of others. And we, as citizens of the world, need to encourage them constantly to take that foot out of the old world and jump wholeheartedly into the new vision which is listening and concern, and the sense that we're all in this together."
RICHARD GERE: THE FACTS
Richard Tiffany Gere was born on August 31, 1949 in Philadelphia.
He was married to supermodel Cindy Crawford from 1991-1995. He married his second wife, Carey Lowell, in 2002.
His performance as Billy Flynn in Chicago earned him a Golden Globe gong for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy in 2003.
A friend of the Dalai Lama, Richard and his wife are both Buddhists and he campaigns for the freedom of Tibet.
Movie making is much like a school project, according to the star: "Making a movie is a job but it's no different from my kid being given a project in class: 'Let's make a village out of paper'. It's all the same. It's all fun. And the better people you have, who have a sense of joy and play about them, the more fun it is."