Dr. Zaius is breaking his long silence on Charlton Heston.
The “Planet of the Apes” orangutan who served as Minister of Science and Chief Defender of the Faith ― or at the very least someone who looked an awful lot like him ― told Turner Classic Movies film host Ben Mankiewicz about the legendary actor’s behavior on the set of the film.
As it turns out, Heston, who was president of the Screen Actors Guild at the time, was a champion for his fellow actors. He hiked a mile to get straws so those in ape costumes could drink water while working under the hot desert sun. And he arranged a helicopter to get them to the set faster so they could sleep later.
The unusual interview was to help promote an upcoming Fathom Events showing of the original 1968 version of “Planet of the Apes” in movie theaters later this month. The screening will include the full conversation between Mankiewicz and Dr. Zaius.
While the interview might seem like it was filmed in jest, the stories about Heston were previously documented.
“It was like 100 degrees and people were fainting all the time on the crew and cast. We needed straws to drink because our mouth was so far behind the appliance we would ruin everything if we tried to drink. Chuck wasn’t in a couple of scenes and he hiked about a mile all the way back to base camp and brought us back straws so we could have some water.”
Kim Hunter, who played Zira, confirmed the helicopter story in the same book.
No word yet on whether the Fathom Events version will include the “Planet of the Apes” musical.
TCM didn’t reveal the identity behind Dr. Zaius in the new clip, but it appears to be comic/”Apes” fan Dana Gould, who posted images of himself putting on the costume for the network back in April.
Gould has also done Dr. Zaius performing as Hal Holbrook performing as Mark Twain, as well as Dr. Zaius as William Shatner reciting “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” among others.
When it comes to ape impersonators, you might say he’s the top banana.
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