U.S. celebrities fall for Germany’s First Lady: The Merkel effect

BERLIN, GERMANY (REUTERS) – Hollywood stars and a former U.S president offer Germany’s incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel their backing for the September 24 elections even as the chancellor faces persistent heckling on the home front.

U.S. actor and often times romantic lead Richard Gere showed himself quite smitten on meeting the lady with the ‘twinkle in her eye,’ on the sidelines of the Berlinale film festival.

“She is a very impressive person. She is very smart and wise and measured and she is also, she’s got a twinkle in her eye and she’s got a delicate energy around her. This is not the iron lady. She is very much a human being. I was incredibly impressed with her,” Gere gushed to Reuters during an interview for his film ‘The Dinner.’

“In the world of Trump she is the last one standing, in Europe and maybe in the whole world. Someone who is responsible. Someone who isn’t a child. Someone who is soft-spoken and thoughtful. And then once makes a wise decision is skillful in manifesting that decision…Please re-elect this woman!” he added.

Merkel, who has been accused of aloofness by her SPD opponent Martin Schulz and is hardly synonymous with the glamour of Hollywood has, in the last two years, been wooed by U.S. actors George Clooney, Robert Redford, Gere and enjoyed a close and relaxed relationship with former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hollywood power couple Clooney and human rights lawyer wife Amal Alamuddin Clooney met with Merkel behind closed doors at the chancellery in winter to discuss the refugee issue and for advice on any help they could offer.

“It is unfortunately a political period in our country so we are not talking about a lot of things that are going on around the world, but I do believe that in fact I am having a meeting with [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel tomorrow to talk about and ask you know what messages and things we can do the things that we can help with,” Clooney said.

Merkel also received Hollywood actor Robert Redford and his wife in Berlin where the two discussed climate protection commitments.

Merkel and Redford are seen seated for tea or coffee, with the chancellor appearing to listen to Redford while smiling.

A caption in German and English reads that Merkel “met the famous actor and his wife” and that Redford had been “committed to climate for many years.”

U.S President Barack Obama, who served two terms and Merkel, who is in her third term also formed an enduing friendship.

On his farewell European tour as Obama sought to allay concerns about his successor Donald Trump, Obama offered Merkel warm words and an election endorsement.

“If I were here and I were German and I had a vote I might support her. I don’t know whether that hurts or helps,” Obama told a packed news conference in the German capital.

Although Obama was speaking on his last official overseas trip, he said he planned to return to Germany at least one more time — to visit Munich’s annual beer-swigging Oktoberfest.

“I have somehow continued to miss Oktoberfest so that’s probably something that is better for me to do as a former president rather than as president. I’ll have more fun,” he said.

Whether Merkel is there to swig an ale as chancellor alongside him remains to be seen.