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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When romantic thriller "Unfaithful" debuted in theaters in May 2002, odds were that it would be quickly forgotten because it opened in the summer season against action-filled competitors such as "Spider-Man"
But the pairing of Richard Gere and Diane Lane won the hearts of audiences. "Unfaithful" pulled in a strong $119 million at global box offices, and the film about a mesmerizing married couple earned Lane an Oscar nomination.
Gere and Lane are together again this Friday in romance "Nights in Rodanthe," and it is easy to see that the on-screen chemistry between the two translates to real life.
Despite spending little time together outside work, Gere, 59, and Lane, 43, talk like old friends and finish each other's sentences when discussing love, life and career at middle-age, which are key elements of "Nights in Rodanthe."
"You get a little bit tired around 40 and you think, 'Have I earned some momentum that I can coast with my, thus far, good deeds.' But there are no days off," Lane told Reuters.
"You still have 20, 30, 40 more years of stuff to learn, of growth," Gere added in a joint interview.
"And something to offer," Lane finished.
"Nights In Rodanthe" is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, and it follows his other books such as "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember" that went from novel to movie.
Gere and Lane play lonely strangers thrown together at a deserted seaside inn on the North Carolina coast as a storm, both real and emotional, bears down on them.
Unbending doctor Paul Flanner (Gere) and brittle artist Adrienne Willis (Lane) turn to each other to survive the tempests around them and make fresh starts in their lives -- neither of which turned out as they had hoped.
The pair said the flirtation between Paul and Adrienne is different than each would have played in their younger years. Indeed, "Rodanthe" treats love like an ongoing conversation that can be as riveting as it is life changing.
"It's very respectful and very balanced. The balance is toward friendship as opposed to erotic fantasy, and I like that," Gere said. "They actually were talking to each other."
"...And listening, and learning," Lane said.
Like their on-screen characters, the two actors say they seem fated to have found one another -- on film at least.
"I don't think there is any question that we have prehistory," Gere said of Lane. "We are not together. We are not married (but) I have no doubt we have many lifetimes of history between us."
"The music is harmonious between us," Lane said, laughing. "We dance in every movie we make -- metaphorically and not metaphorically."
In their real lives, Gere is married to actress Carey Lowell, and Lane is married to actor Josh Brolin.
Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte