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Lesser-Known Charlton Heston Roles: 5 Films From Star You Probably Haven't Seen Yet

Image: Lesser-Known Charlton Heston Roles: 5 Films From Star You Probably Haven't Seen Yet
“Soylent Green”, 1973. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 05:38 PM

When someone starts talking about Charlton Heston movie roles, the actor’s performances in epic and biblically inspired stories usually come to mind.

In a career defined by respected films such as “The Ten Commandments,” “El Cid,” and his award-winning performance in “Ben-Hur,” there is no denying that Heston’s roles could be described as “bigger than life.”

Stretching all the way back to 1941, Charlton Heston was no one-trick monkey. Some lesser known roles he appeared in over the years on both the big screen and also on TV did as much to grow his fan base as the larger parts, allowing the actor to spread his wings and perform in ways he hadn’t in his more well-known films.

1. “Soylent Green” (1973)

It’s age, rather than reputation, that may have kept you from seeing this flick. Harry Harrison’s 1966 science-fiction novel “Make Room! Make Room!” inspired this dark dystopian thriller starring Heston in 2022 New York as an overpopulated, resource-challenged society struggled to maintain itself within a police state gone wrong.

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Heston’s role in the cult classic as Detective Thorn is notable in that he was paired onscreen with Edward G. Robinson in what would be Robinson’s final performance as an actor in a career that started in 1916.

2. “Dynasty” and “The Colbys” (1985-1987)

Parlaying his willingness to tackle roles in TV miniseries despite his established big screen stardom, sexagenarian Heston jumped onto the bandwagon of the mid-80s “Dynasty” craze and subsequent spin-off “The Colby’s” while playing Jason Colby.

Producer Aaron Spelling was no dummy, tapping into the leading actor’s massive fan base while casting him in a role that worked perfectly in three episodes of “Dynasty” and 49 episodes of “The Colbys.”

3. “The Bold and the Beautiful” (1993)

When one makes a list of Charlton Heston roles, he or she might immediately jump to the realm of soap operas, but Heston found a brief home in 1993 on the popular daytime series “The Bold and the Beautiful” on CBS.

Playing himself in seven episodes, Heston tapped into yet another huge new audience that helped extend his legacy even further on a series about high fashion, intrigue, and romance that is still running today.

4. “True Lies” (1994)

Charlton’s Heston’s role, however brief, as Omega Sector boss Spencer Trilby in James Cameron’s 1994 blockbuster butted his star-power up against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s and allowed fans another glimpse at the aging star in a high-caliber box office draw.

By most accounts Heston nailed the part, as he was apt to do, and carved another notch in his impressive résumé.

5. Narrative Performances

Already a proven commodity with his impressive body of work rolling out of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, Heston tackled memorable roles doing voice-only work later in his career.

“Armageddon,” “Cats & Dogs,” “Hercules,” “The Dark Mist,” and a 1994 TV miniseries “Great Battles of the Civil War” where Heston provided the voice of Abraham Lincoln, are all examples of Heston’s ability to bring memorable voice to characters and scripts even if he wasn’t onscreen as the leading man.

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In a career defined by respected films such as “The Ten Commandments,” “El Cid,” and “Ben-Hur,” there is no denying that Charlton Heston’s performances could be described as “bigger than life.” But some lesser known roles in which he appeared did as much to grow his fan base as the larger roles.
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