Charlton Heston Poster

Quotes (99)

  • [from a taped announcement concerning his having symptoms of Alzheimer's disease] For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life . . . For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring to my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway.
  • [on Sam Peckinpah] Sam is the only person I've ever physically threatened on a set.
  • If you need a ceiling painted, a chariot race run, a city besieged, or the Red Sea parted, you think of me.
  • You can take my rifle ... when you pry it from my cold dead hands!
  • [after hearing an unkind remark made about his condition by George Clooney, nephew of Rosemary Clooney] It's funny how class can skip a generation, isn't it?
  • [on why he turned down Alexander the Great (1956)] Alexander is the easiest kind of movie to do badly.
  • Affirmative action is a stain on the American soul.
  • [on conquering his alcohol addiction in 2000] It was one of my best recent years. And now I'm not drinking at all. I wasn't slurring my words. I wasn't falling over, but I realized it had become an addiction for me. And in my profession, it's a terrible flaw to fall into. I believe I did it in time.
  • Political correctness is tyranny with manners.
  • The Internet is for lonely people. People should live.
  • [from his final televised interview in December 2002, regarding his recent diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease] What cannot be cured must be endured.
  • I've played cardinals and cowboys, kings and quarterbacks, presidents and painters, cops and con-men.
  • [on Robert De Niro] It's ridiculous for an actor that good to keep playing Las Vegas hoods.
  • People have been asking me for thirty-five years if I was losing jobs because of my conservative politics. I've never felt that was the case.
  • Here's my credo. There are no good guns, There are no bad guns. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a good man is no threat to anyone, except bad people.
  • I don't know the man - never met him, never even spoken to him. But I feel sorry for George Clooney - one day he may get Alzheimer's disease. I served my country in World War II. I survived that - I guess I can survive some bad words from this fellow.
  • [message sent to US troops in Iraq, 2003] There is no duty more noble than that which has called you across the world in defense of freedom. Yours is a mission of hope and humanity for the oppressed. Rest assured that while pretend-patriots talk of supporting you, even as they condemn your noble cause, an unwavering vast majority of Americans share and take pride in your mission. You represent all that is good and right about America and are the true face of American patriotism. You walk in those same righteous footsteps of all those patriots who, before you, fought to preserve liberty for all. Our prayers and our personal gratitude are with you and your families. May God Bless You, Charlton and Lydia Heston/.
  • [talking about what he sees as Hollywood's stereotyping of Protestant religious figures] Clergymen tend to be unreliable and pompous figures. Seldom Jewish rabbis, less often Catholic priests, but Protestant ministers tend to be . . . not really very admirable. Not necessarily evil, but silly. And wrong, of course.
  • There's a special excitement in playing a man who made a hole in history large enough to be remembered centuries after he died.
  • If you can't make a career out of two de Milles, you'll never do it.
  • [after completing El Cid (1961)] After spending all of last winter in armor it's a great relief to wear costume that bends.
  • The minute you feel you have given a faultless performance is the time to get out.
  • I have played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses. If that doesn't create an ego problem, nothing does.
  • I've been killed often, on film, the stage, and the television tube. Studios insist the audience doesn't like this. It's been my experience that it makes them unhappy, but that's not the same thing. In any event, they often attend those undertakings where I come to a violent end even more enthusiastically than they do those where I survive. There may be a message for me somewhere there.
  • I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be an actor.
  • [following the death of Gary Cooper in 1961] He was a wonderful, forthright and honorable man.
  • [following the death of Barbara Stanwyck in 1990] She was a great broad, in all the meaning of the word.
  • It's hard living up to Moses.
  • It is essential that gun owners unite in an active, growing force capable of flexing great muscle as the next millennium commences.
  • The great roles are always Shakespearean.
  • Most people in the film community don't really understand what being politically active means. They think it is just doing interviews. I'm content that the Hollywood left thinks being a political activist means riding Air Force One and hanging out with the President.
  • Warren Beatty is non-typical of Hollywood liberals. He thinks [Bill Clinton] is an idiot.
  • It is not widely known that one of the finest gun collections on the West Coast is Steven Spielberg's. He shoots, but very privately.
  • [on The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)] There are actors who can do period roles, and actors who can't . . . God knows, [John Wayne] couldn't play a first-century Roman!
  • In recent years, anyone in the government, certainly anyone in the FBI or the CIA, or recently, in again, [Clint Eastwood]'s film, In the Line of Fire (1993), the main bad guy is the chief advisor to the president.
  • [on Pulp Fiction (1994)] Now what [Quentin Tarantino will say to that is, "Don't you understand? This is a black comedy. We're holding this up to ridicule". There's no worse thing you can accuse a cool person of being than not getting a joke.
  • The big studio era is from the coming of sound until 1950, until I came in ... I came in at a crux in film, which was the end of the studio era and the rise of filmmaking.
  • You can spend a lifetime, and, if you're honest with yourself, never once was your work perfect.
  • [1999] I marched for civil rights with Dr. [Martin Luther King] in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe. I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
  • It's been quite a ride. I loved every minute of it.
  • People don't perceive me as a shy man. But I am. I am thought of mostly in terms of the parts I play. I am seen as a forbidding authority figure. I only wish I were as indomitable as everyone thinks.
  • I find my blood pressure rising when [Bill Clinton]'s cultural shock troops participate in homosexual rights fund raisers but boycott gun rights fund raisers - and then claim it's time to place homosexual men in tents with Boy Scouts and suggest that sperm-donor babies born into lesbian relationships are somehow better served.
  • Mainstream America is depending on you - counting on you - to draw your sword and fight for them. These people have precious little time or resources to battle misguided Cinderella attitudes, the fringe propaganda of the homosexual coalition, the feminists who preach that it's a divine duty for women to hate men, blacks who raise a militant fist with one hand, while they seek preference with the other.
  • The Constitution was handed down to guide us by a bunch of those wise old, dead, white guys who invented this country. It's true - they were white guys. So were most of the guys who died in [Abraham Lincoln]'s name, opposing slavery in the 1860s. So, why should I be ashamed of white guys? Why is Hispanic pride or black pride a good thing, while white pride conjures up shaved heads and white hoods?
  • People in the film community think being politically active means getting on Air Force One and going to dinner at the White House. I've scorned a few liberals in this town, and I get a kick out of that.
  • In the beginning an actor impresses us with his looks, later his voice enchants us. Over the years, his performances enthrall us. But in the end, it is simply what he is.
  • In Hollywood there are more gun owners in the closet than homosexuals.
  • Somewhere in the busy pipeline of public funding is sure to be a demand from a disabled lesbian on welfare that the Metropolitan Opera stage her rap version of "Carmen" as translated into Ebonics.
  • Once the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, I had other agendas.
  • I didn't change. The Democratic Party slid to the Left from right under me.
  • [explaining his endorsement of the Gun Control Act of 1968] I was young and foolish.
  • [on President Bill Clinton] America didn't trust you with their health-care system, America didn't trust you with gays in the military, America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters. And we sure, Lord, don't trust you with our guns.
  • I'm pissed off when Indians say they're Native Americans! I'm a Native American, for chrisakes!
  • Too many gun owners think we've wandered to some fringe of American life and left them behind.
  • Jackson was one of my favorite Presidents. One mean son of a bitch.
  • "Hard" is what I do best. I don't do "nice".
  • [August 9, 2002] My Dear Friends, Colleagues and Fans: My physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease. So . . . I wanted to prepare a few words for you now, because when the time comes, I may not be able to. I've lived my whole life on the stage and screen before you. I've found purpose and meaning in your response. For an actor there's no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life. For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can; the doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring in my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please laugh anyway. I'm neither giving up nor giving in. I believe I'm still the fighter that Dr. [Martin Luther King] and [John F. Kennedy] and Ronald Reagan knew, but it's a fight I must someday call a draw. I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure. Please feel no sympathy for me. I don't. I just may be a little less accessible to you, despite my wishes. I also want you to know that I'm grateful beyond measure. My life has been blessed with good fortune. I'm grateful that I was born in America, that cradle of freedom and opportunity, where a kid from the Michigan Northwoods can work hard and make something of his life. I'm grateful for the gift of the greatest words ever written, that let me share with you the infinite scope of the human experience. As an actor, I'm thankful that I've lived not one life, but many. Above all, I'm proud of my family ... my wife Lydia, the queen of my heart, my children, Fraser and Holly, and my beloved grandchildren, Jack, Ridley and Charlie. They're my biggest fans, my toughest critics and my proudest achievement. Through them, I can touch immortality. Finally, I'm confident about the future of America. I believe in you. I know that the future of our country, our culture and our children is in good hands. I know you will continue to meet adversity with strength and resilience, as our ancestors did, and come through with flying colors - the ones on Old Glory. William Shakespeare, at the end of his career, wrote his farewell through the words of Prospero, in "The Tempest". It ends like this: "Be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-cap'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep". Thank you, and God bless you, everyone.
  • I have never felt I was being ill-treated by the press - ill-treated by Barbra Streisand, maybe. But Ms. Streisand I suggest is inadequately educated on the Constitution of the United States.
  • [Following the death of Gregory Peck in 2003] Gregory Peck was one of those few great actors of generosity, humor, toughness and spirit. From our fight scene in The Big Country (1958) to his willingness to stand up for what he believed personally, Gregory Peck faced life's challenges with great vigor and courage.
  • [2000] Vote freedom first. Vote George W. Bush. Everything else is a distant and forgettable second place. This is the most important election since the Civil War. Al Gore, if elected, would have the power to hammer your gun rights right into oblivion. Instead of fighting redcoats, we are now fighting blue blood elitists.
  • Somebody once approached Kirk Douglas and said they had enjoyed his performance in Ben-Hur (1959). So he said, 'That wasn't me, that was another fellow.' And the man said, 'Well, if you aren't Burt Lancaster, who the hell are you?'
  • [2000] Al Gore is now saying, "I'm with you guys on guns". In any other time or place you'd be looking for a lynching mob.
  • [1998] The law-abiding citizen is entitled to own a rifle, pistol, or shotgun. The right, put simply, shall not be infringed.
  • I have spent my life in service to these two sacred sets of work - the gift of human passion in William Shakespeare and the gift of human freedom enshrined in the American bill of human rights. Tony Blair can have his bodyguards and the police are all allowed to defend themselves, then so should the people.
  • [on Orson Welles] He was not an extravagant director. I mean, Warren Beatty can spend $60 million making Reds (1981) a half-hour too long and it crosses nobody's lips that that's too much money.
  • [on Sophia Loren] All in all the most trying work time with an actress I can ever recall. Mind you, she's not a bitch. She's a warm lady, truly; she's just more star than pro.
  • [on working with Ava Gardner in 55 Days at Peking (1963)] Today marked the worst behavior I've yet seen from that curious breed I make my living opposite. Ava showed up for a late call, did one shot (with the usual incredible delay in coming to the set), and then walked off just before lunch when some Chinese extra took a still of her. She came back after a painful three-hour lunch break only to walk off, for the same reason.
  • [on Anne Baxter] We never had a cross word. However, I did not find her enormously warming and there was no great personal stirring between us as friends.
  • [on Richard Harris] Richard is very much the professional Irishman. I found him a somewhat erratic personality and an occasional pain in the posterior. But we certainly never feuded.
  • [on Richard Harris] He's something of a fuck-up, no question.
  • I have a face that belongs in another century.
  • I have lived such a wonderful life! I've lived enough for two people.
  • [on how his marriage lasted as long as it did]: Remember three simple words - I was wrong.
  • I like playing great men. They're more interesting than the rest of us.
  • [on his role in The Ten Commandments (1956)] I was a little green in the film. I could do it better now.
  • I'd rather play a senator than be one.
  • I've almost never been content with what I've done in any film. My heart's desire would be to do them all over again - and not do a half dozen of them at all.
  • Why does Cary Grant get all those pictures set entirely in penthouses?
  • [on actors advocating their political opinions]: Well, we have as much right to shoot our mouths off as anyone else. God knows I've exercised that right.
  • [September 2002] I've always been sure of my health and this suddenly gave me something else to think about. But maybe it's good if God gives you something to think about every so often. Whatever happens happens. You take it in stride if you can. You don't have many options there.
  • A lot of men in positions of authority are difficult people, because they're right, and they know they're right.
  • Orson [Welles] insists he hates acting but of course he is a very good actor and is really able to communicate with actors. It's not too often that you learn about acting from directors because that isn't what they do. They sometimes make you act better, but to really understand the process is a different thing.
  • Orson really understood the process. I remember we were looking at dailies one day and he leaned over and said, 'You know, Chuck, you have to work on your tenor range. Those of us with great bass voices love to rumble along in them. The tenor range is a knife edge; the bass is a velvet hammer. You have to use them both'. That was very useful. I'd never thought of it before.
  • My face seems to be acceptable in almost any period except the 20th century
  • [on providing the Voice of God in the burning bush scene of The Ten Commandments (1956)] I won that one while we were still in Egypt. We shot on the top of Mount Sinai, the real Mount Sinai, and at the foot of the mountain. We were staying at the monastery of St. Catherine's, which is at the base of the mountain, and it's a walled monastery, because of course in ancient times it was constantly at risk. I was sitting at dinner one night with Mr. DeMille and the chief abbot of the monastery. And DeMille was talking about his delight in being able to shoot on the ground where these things had happened, as was I. And they were discussing who might do the voice of God. With a temerity that was a rather daring thing for a young actor to do, I saw an opportunity, and I said, "You know, Mr. DeMille, it seems to me that any man hears the voice of God from inside himself. And I would like to be the voice of God." And he said, "Well, you know, Chuck, you've got a pretty good part as it is." The abbot said, "That's an interesting idea, though." And I think that tipped the scales for me. And so [DeMille] said okay. In the movie, you only hear the voice of God twice - first at the burning bush, and again when he receives the Ten Commandments. And I did not do that one. I don't know who did. [It was rumored to be DeMille's voice in the tablet-giving scene, but] I don't think he did it. Because it was a very heavy voice, and he had a baritone voice, but not a bass voice. He was a much older man then, and not in the best of health. But I don't know who did it. You know, there would be no shortage of finding guys with good voices to do it. See, [DeMille] was a master at that kind of thing. There was no reason not to say who did it. But he didn't want to, and so people have been arguing about it ever since.
  • [on the special effects in The Ten Commandments (1956)] As soon as you saw it in a model, you saw that it could work. And it did. The same thing with the burning bush. Which is not much of an effect, but it's quite nice. It's where you hear the voice of God - which in the end was my voice.
  • I've played, what, three presidents, two saints, a couple of geniuses. I like playing great men. They're more interesting than the rest of us.
  • I think Yul Brynner's performance in The Ten Commandments (1956) is the best performance in the film. I was a little green for it. I could do it better now, but I'm too old for it. It's okay - it's a good performance. But Yul was just wonderful.
  • [on the cast of The Ten Commandments (1956)] I was the greenest of them all, but I had the best part.
  • [on the set of the Gates of Per-Rameses in Beni Youssef, Egypt] The place itself created a reality in which you don't need to "act." I took a few moments to myself, then walked to my mark and lifted my arms: "Hear, O Israel! Remember this day, when the strong hand of the Lord leads you out of bondage!" I planted my staff, and stepped forward, I never looked back. I just "felt" this huge Biblical host following me. On and on they came, the young and the old, the animals and the wagons. It took ten minutes for the entire multitude to pass the rolling VistaVision cameras, each camera consuming a full one-thousand-food reel without stopping once.
  • DeMille was fascinated with historical detail. He decided on filming as close to the actual summit of Mount Sinai as possible.
  • The value of Elmer Bernstein's score [for The Ten Commandments (1956)] is almost impossible to measure. It's absolutely perfect for the film, guiding and shaping the emotional weight of each scene with mature mastery.
  • [on Dark City (1950)] My co-star was Lizabeth Scott, a sultry blonde with black eyebrows and a low, sexy voice. She had an interesting "bend to me, come to me, go from me" quality that served her well, I think. She had a unique presence on screen.
  • [on The Ten Commandments (1956)] My only regret is that today, the post-baby boom generation has only seen it on the small television set. The film was designed to be seen on a wide screen in its full original color and stereo sound effects. TV is simply not the same thing. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not complaining. They're still showing it on television every Easter, and I couldn't be happier.
  • [1967] I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be an actor. I think I've always been one and only recently started to make a living at it. I just suddenly found it was possible to do this for a living.
  • You should work for a standard that's harder than anything anybody else can set for you anyway.
  • Any historical part is of course more difficult than just a fictional role. In a non-contemporary part you must try to inhabit the century at least enough so you can communicate it to a modern audience. The more remote the century, the more difficult it is to do that.
  • I lived in a community of a 100, and amused myself by acting out the stories my father read to me, and, when I learned to read, acting out the stories in whatever books were available.
  • Westerns are relaxing for me. I like to ride. You have a kind of freedom and besides, you don't have any great problems with leading ladies