Planet of the Apes.

by Claire

As he left his trailer and walked over to the cliff top, Charlton Heston really did wish that he had put his vest on. There was a chill early morning wind blowing up from the beach below and the sun had not yet breached the horizon.

Charlton purveyed the location of this morning’s shoot, a beautiful swathe of Californian coastline with broad golden strands and azure waters. His attention was caught by a scoop of pelicans as they flew past, making prehistoric silhouettes against the sunrise. Charlton should have felt blessed but somehow, he could not shake off the sense of disappointment and dread that had overcome him in the last few days.

The man who had been a mighty charioteer, the Prince of Egypt and John the Baptist was now in a film about talking apes. He was not entirely sure how this had come to pass but felt it may have had something to do with his agent being a good for nothing gambler, who sold Chuck off to repay a debt.

The blessing was that he wasn’t playing a monkey. He thought about the first day in make-up, as his hair was lightly tousled and some sweat applied to his brow, he looked across to see Roddy McDowell being fitted into his chimpanzee mask. “Hello Charlton” said Roddy in his tiny little effete voice.

“Call me Chuck” said Charlton “How’s it going?”

“I’ve been here 2 hours already” said Roddy “and I’ll be lucky to be ready by lunchtime. This mask is very constricting”

“Shucks” said Chuck “see ya later” and left the makeup van feeling smug in that respect at least.

Still he couldn’t shake off the sense that this could be his downfall, the film to end his career - how would anyone ever be able to take him seriously again?

As he stood pondering a large truck drove along the beach. On the back of it was the top portion of the Statue of Liberty. Charlton knew this was essential set dressing for today’s filming, but he could not for the life of him work it out. He had read the script over and over and just didn’t get it -why, if he was on a planet where monkeys were in charge, where he and his astronaut buddies had crash landed from outer space, was there a replica of the Statue of Liberty?

“I need a drink” thought Chuck, “don’t care what time it is”. On his way to the Winnebago he passed behind the director’s trailer, dodging the shards of broken bottles on his way. As he rounded the corner he heard grunting, then a high pitched squeaking, followed by the sight of a chimpanzee being sodmised by a gorilla. The chimpanzee was wearing plimsolls, just like the ones Roddy wore. Charlton was suddenly overwhelmed and felt a surge of anger.

“Dam you, Dam you all to hell” he raged at the top of his voice before sinking to his knees in desolate despair.

Charlton’s impassioned words floated in through the window of the director Franklin J Schaffner. He turned to the blue-eyed monkey beside him in bed - “grab a pen will ya..I need to write that down”.