One French tourist’s kind-hearted gesture captured the world’s attention for a very unique reason.
“I gave my doggy bag to a homeless [man], and the homeless is Richard Gere,” Karine Gombeau, the woman whose action made headlines, told ABC News.
Gombeau, a Paris native, says she was visiting New York’s famous Little Italy neighborhood last week when she saw a man sifting through the garbage. Assuming he was homeless, she gave him her leftover pizza, having no idea that he’s actually Hollywood mega-star Richard Gere.
“He was going through a bin, I had food with me,” she explained. “I thought, ‘He should have my pizza instead of going through that bin.”
It turns out Gombeau had stumbled onto the set of Gere’s new movie, “Time Out of Mind,” in which Gere, 64, plays a homeless man.
“He was dressed in a way, with a cap, not shaved,” she said of the actor’s unbecoming appearance. “He looked like a man going through a rough time.”
In French, Gombeau told ABC News that Gere asked her what she was offering. When she replied it was barbeque chicken pizza, she says he thanked her and told her, “God bless you,” never revealing his A-list identity. In fact, she says she had no idea until she saw the picture of her encounter in the media the following morning while eating breakfast.
“Suddenly, I look up to see the news and there I see myself, a picture of myself on the news,” she recalled. “I was taking my breakfast with my family in the morning, and I see myself on the TV and think, ‘What did I do? I don’t believe this.’”
Gombeau, who says she is a fan of Gere’s 2002 movie, “Chicago,” believes her encounter with the undercover leading man proves he’s obviously in the right business.
“He is a good actor,” she said. “It’s an amazing experience. It’s crazy.”
And as for her first trip to New York City, “It is a great story,” Gombreau explained. “A memory of New York I will keep for a very long time. For a first time in New York, I could not have wished for better.”