Thursday, June 17, 2021

Charlton Heston - Mister Epic

His close friends call him "Chuck". But to filmgoers all over the world he is known as Charlton Heston, a six-foot two-inch giant of a man and the star of such mighty epics as The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, and El-Cid. 

Heston was recently asked why it was that he always appeared in big-budget films. "It's a matter of faces," he smiled. "I guess I just have to face the fact that I have a thousand-year-old face. I seldom get the chance to wear a modern-day suit. I spend most of my life in a toga.

"But I am worming my way back into the 20th century. I made a movie in Italy early this year titled The Pigeon That Took Rome. I'm playing the part of a U.S. Navy spy sent to the Eternal City in advance of its liberation by Allied Forces during the last war. Then after this, I really came up to the present day with a part in Diamond Head which we made in Hawaii. Then it was back to Madrid to start work on 55 Days at Peking with Ava Gardner and David Niven. It's the story of the Boxer Uprising in 1900, guess I'm heading back to those biblical days again," he laughed. 

Does he enjoy working on large-scale pictures?

"Yes, I do very much," he said. "But believe me they're hard work. I sweated out nine months working on Ben-Hur. It was a tough assignment. One of the most exacting roles I've ever played. I had to be 100% fit all the time. But I feel we came up with a worthwhile picture. It was all worth it."

Charlton is an actor who believes in almost living with the character he portrays. 

"I often take the character home with me after I've finished a day's shooting, " he says. I'm moody when I get home. But if my family are with me, they understand what has brought on the mood. It takes me a couple of hours to become Charlton Heston again. Any actor worth his salt tries to believe in the events which he is trying to portray. In fact, while I was working on The Ten Commandments in the part of Moses, I actually felt at times that I had become Moses. Before I started work on the picture I read through twenty-two volumes on the life of Mose. It was a fascinating experience. I always believe in conducting thorough research on the characters I'm asked to play. I like to get underneath their skins, discover what kind of person they really are."

Heston himself is a man of many controversial opinions. He speaks his mind whenever he wants to. Once he criticized a number of leading feminine Hollywood stars. "Some of them," he said "are very unprofessional in their attitude. They don't care very much about what they're doing. They're too disenchanted by the movie star bit and tend to regard it as a social engagement. The industry has created its own monsters and they're all feminine."

In Charlton Heston, Hollywood has created an actor of great talent, an actor who is admired and respected throughout the entire industry. 

This article originally appeared in the 1962 edition of Film Show Annual. Movie Magazine Articles, another one of our ongoing series, feature articles like this reprinted for our reader's entertainment. Click here to find more posts in this series!


  1. What a nifty interview!!! Thanks so much for sharing it :-)

  2. It’s interesting how his career took a turn into science fiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s with Planet of the Apes, its first sequel, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man.

    1. That's true. He probably never realized that would happen....although he was lucky that he didn't wind up making cheap horror films at the end of his career!