Richard Gere may have a future as a comedian — at least according to his No. 1 fan, two-year-old son Homer. "I can just raise an eyebrow and send him into hysterical laughter," he tells TV Guide Online. "We [also] have this game where I growl and then threaten to chew on his belly. That just tickles him to no end... My son makes me get goofy, but I guess children make fools of all of us."

Homer is the 52-year-old actor's first child with actress Carey Lowell (Law & Order), whom he refers to as his "wife" although the pair aren't formally married. "I've proposed to her," he explains, "but we just haven't gotten around to making it official yet.

"We're both very protective parents," he continues. "I would love to carpet the world so my son wouldn't get any bruises. You get a really strong protective animal impulse having a child. I didn't know it was going to be that strong."

Gere confesses that another natural instinct — survival — kicked in while he was filming the psycho-thriller The Mothman Prophecies (opening Jan. 25). In one scene, he plunges into an icy river to rescue Laura Linney. "I spent a lot of time underwater," he remembers. "I surprised myself at how long I could hold my breath. I was down there for 40 seconds at a time.

"I get pumped up when I'm acting out that stuff," adds the Pretty Woman star, who plays a Washington Post reporter investigating a strange disaster-predicting phenomenon in Prophecies. "But I have to admit the water was a lot warmer than it looks in the movie."

As for unexplained occurrences in his own life, Gere reveals, "I guess becoming a movie star was definitely one. But I've never had any of those moments when something jumped at me out of the dark. Actually, if I was going to confront something spooky, I'd love to meet the Loch Ness monster. I've always found Nessie fascinating."