The man responsible for starting the notorious Richard Gere gerbil rumor in the early ’90s finally apologized to the actor Monday night for creating the urban legend that still haunts Gere to this day. Wayne Matthews, a 35-year-old mechanic from New Mexico, attended the Hollywood Film Awards where Gere was being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award and begged for forgiveness for spreading the rumor that Gere was once rushed to an emergency room to have a gerbil removed from his body after a kinky sex act went horribly awry.
When Gere heard the confession, the famous pacifist and Buddhist became enraged and attempted to strangle Matthews before being restrained by the night’s other award winners Ben Affleck and Quentin Tarantino.
“I got more grief from people over the years for that stupid gerbil rumor than I did for making ‘The Mothman Prophecies,’ ” Gere told Hollywood & Swine. “And Cindy Crawford divorced me because she wanted a pet but couldn’t trust me with one.”
Gere said his worst moment came when he attended the premiere of Disney’s 2009 family film “G-Force,” but was ordered to leave by security after audience members refused to watch a movie about guinea pigs with Gere in the audience.
For years Gere blamed Sylvester Stallone for starting the malicious rodent rumor, but Matthews insists Stallone is innocent and that he’s responsible. According to Matthews, the origin of the gerbil rumor began back in his hometown of Albuquerque in 1991 when the teenaged Matthews told it to his best friend to see how gullible he really was. Matthews even went as far to convince his friend that the traumatic shock of the gerbil removal was what caused Gere’s hair to go prematurely gray.
Before Matthews knew it, the Richard Gere gerbil rumor spread across America and damaged the actor’s reputation forever. Matthews kept his silence and lived with his guilt for over twenty years, until he heard about Gere receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award and decided it was time to finally make amends.
After calming down, Gere officially accepted Matthews apology and told him it’s time they both put the dreaded gerbil rumor behind.
“I’m a Buddhist so I have to forgive,” Gere said. “It also means I believe in reincarnation so I’m hoping Matthews dies and comes back as a gerbil while I’m still alive.”