Richard Gere Plays Japan's Lovable Loser in French Soft Drink Ads

While riding the subway during my two-week trip to Tokyo, I saw Richard Gere on print ads for Orangina. Seeing the ads made some members of the JapanBall tour group with whom I was traveling nostalgic for the citrusy beverage.

Richard Gere, Orangina, Suntory, Tokyo, Japan, Tora-san
Richard Gere's Orangina ad on a train in Tokyo

I saw this commercial on TV in my hotel room:

A few days later, by sheer coincidence, my friend Tamio in New York posted on Facebook the link to an article from GaijinPot. The site, which gives tips on jobs, apartments, and culture to foreigners living in Japan, explains why Gere appears on Japanese ads for a French soft drink.

“American actor Richard Gere is appearing in an advertising campaign for the rebranding of French soft drink Orangina in Japan. In the commercials and on posters, Gere, 62, appears as Tora-san, the lovable loser in Shochiku’s popular 48-film series of Japanese comedy movies.”

Now it all makes sense! I had no idea Japanese beverage company Suntory produces Orangina. While I’ve never seen the Tora-san films, I recall Japan Society screened a “best of” series a couple of years ago.

Richard Gere, Suntory, Tokyo, Japan, Orangina
Richard Gere plays Tora-san (inset)