Charlton Heston is best known for two sword-and-sandal Biblical epics that he made in the 1950s. He played the titular role in Ben-Hur, and took on the role of Moses in The Ten Commandments. What’s less well-known is the fact that he actually had two roles in drama movie The Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments was the final film of one of the most legendary directors of the golden age of Hollywood – Cecil B. DeMille. Heston described to EW in 1999 how they were staying at a monastery at the base of the real Mount Sinai during shooting. And DeMille and the chief abbot of the monastery “were discussing who might do the voice of God [in The Ten Commandments movie].”
“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.'”
Heston continued; “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 rumoured 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.”
DeMille also directed a Samson and Delilah movie, and other historical epics to come out in the same era included Stanley Kubrick‘s Spartacus and Cleopatra (which went so over-budget, it killed the genre for a long time). Check out our guide to the best adventure movies.