Dr. Zaius Shares Fond Memories of Charlton Heston on Set of 1968's 'Planet of the Apes'

Fathom Events will screen the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes in theaters on July 24 and July 27, and as part of the promo effort, Turner Classic Movies has released a teaser of an interview by Ben Mankiewicz of Dr. Zaius, the orangutan who so memorably served in the movie as Minister of Science and Chief Defender of Faith. Dr. Zaius was played in the film by Maurice Evans, who died in 1989, and here by comedian Dana Gould, who is no stranger to Dr. Zaius makeup, as you’ll see in the clip below.

In the short teaser from the TCM interview, which will be part of the Fathom presentation, Dr. Zaius reminisces about Charlton Heston or, as he preferred to be known, Chuck. Even though he was taken care of as the star of the film, he was also president of the Screen Actors Guild, and took a personal interest in the ensemble’s treatment and working conditions.

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Shooting in the desert in 100 degree weather, Dr. Zaius tells Mankiewicz that Heston not only once hiked over a mile to the base camp to retrieve straws so the actors in the ape costumes could drink water (they couldn’t risk getting their ape makeup wet otherwise), but also acquired a helicopter so that actors who had to be up early to be on set could get there more quickly, and thus catch some extra sleep.

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Although this interview might seem satirical, the stories Gould shares as Dr. Zaius don’t come out of thin air. Apes costars Lou Wagner and Kim Hunter recounted the straw and helicopter stories in the book Planet of the Apes Revisited. Heston, remembered for a long career including roles in classics like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments, died in 2008.

‘Planet of the Apes’: Watch a montage of clips from the 1968 film: