Actors Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon brought Hollywood star power to the San Sebastian Film Festival on Friday, launching it with a screening of new US thriller "Arbitrage".
Gere, the now white-haired heart-throb from classics such as "American Gigolo" and "Pretty Woman", brings his old charm to the role of a New York financier with dark secrets to hide in the movie, which opened one of Europe's top international film events.
He lined up for the cameras at the 60th edition of the festival in the Spanish Basque city, alongside "Thelma and Louise" heroine Sarandon, who plays his wife in the film by young US director Nicholas Jarecki.
Gere's character Robert Miller tries to hide his bad investments in order to sell off his financial firm.
But he is hounded by other secrets: a violent past and a possessive younger lover, played by French actress Letitia Casta. He draws the attention of a police detective played masterfully by Tim Roth.
"When you play a character like this, you basically have two choices: you play the villain, with a capital V, and I think it becomes a cliche and not very interesting, or you play human beings, which is the choice that we had," Gere told reporters.
"I think it was very important to find what was charming in this character, to find the Bill Clinton in this character, who finds the way to swim through all these problems and finally win."
Jarecki said he started writing the script for "Arbitrage", his first feature film, at the height of the world finance crisis in 2008-2009, and Gere's character was influenced by the real hedge fund manager John Paulson.
"It is not as much about money... (as) an addictive game of power," said Sarandon, who played alongside Gere previously in the 2004 picture "Shall We Dance?".
"They had such a fluency with each other it was just like going back into a great dialogue that has been going on for years," the director said.
"Arbitrage" is one of 14 films in competition for the festival's top prize, the Golden Conch.
Gere and Sarandon, who have each previously won the festival's Donostia lifetime achievement prize, are now in the running for Silver Conch best actor and best actress awards.
"This is my fifth decade making movies," Gere said. "I never thought that that would happen."
The star-studded festival continues Saturday with an out-of-competition screening of "Argo", directed by and starring a younger Hollywood heart-throb, Ben Affleck.
That is followed by "Blancanieves" ("Snow White") by Spanish director Pablo Berger, in competition.