Richard Gere's new language skills -- The star of ''Rhapsody In August'' learns Japanese for his role

Now preparing for his first role since playing the corporate raider with a heart of gold in Pretty Woman, Richard Gere probably won’t wind up in another Hollywood blockbuster. Gere is learning his lines for Akira Kurosawa’s 30th film, Rhapsody In August — and he’s busy learning them in Japanese. He plays the half-Japanese son of an ailing pineapple grower in the contemporary drama scheduled for release next year. While on location near Tokyo, the American actor attended a news conference where he found out just how popular his director is. ”I expected there to be about 10 journalists, and we would chat for a few minutes and get back to work,” says Gere, who ended up facing 170 reporters. ”I also was surprised to walk into this news conference and I wasn’t the main person being photographed. It was Kurosawa-san.”