Charlton Heston's Son Fraser Reflects on Playing Baby Moses in 'Ten Commandments' : 'That Film Is in My DNA'

Fraser Heston chats with PEOPLE about his career, his father's legacy and more amid The Ten Commandments' 65th anniversary and 4K Ultra HD release

Fraser Heston
Fraser Heston. Photo: Courtesy Fraser Heston

Fraser Heston may not remember acting in his first movie role, but the stories he has been told over the years have made him look back on the experience fondly.

The filmmaker and son of the late acting legend Charlton Heston chatted with PEOPLE amid The Ten Commandments' 65th anniversary and 4K Ultra HD release, joking about how he'd gotten the job playing the infant version of his father's Moses in the 1956 film before he was even born.

"While dad filmed the first half of the movie, my mom was expecting with me," Fraser explains. "They didn't know the sex of the child in those days, and [director and producer Cecil B. DeMille] said to my dad, 'If it's a boy, he can play the baby Moses. He'll be about the right age.' "

Fraser, who's now 66, tells PEOPLE, "When I was born in February of 1955, the first telegram my mother got was from Cecil B. DeMille. It said, 'Congratulations, he's got the part.' "

"That film is literally in my DNA," he adds, joking, "And I got all my lines right, too."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Charlton Heston, Fraser Heston The Ten Commandments
Fraser Heston as baby Moses in The Ten Commandments. Courtesy Paramount
The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments. LMPC via Getty

While Fraser didn't get to keep the cloth or basket he was placed in for his film scenes, his family got a pretty incredible "consolation" prize: the "original staff" Charlton, as Moses, used in the unforgettable scene where he parts the Red Sea so the Hebrews can escape.

"He's assured me that it happened once, it won't happen again," Fraser jokes, calling the prop a "pretty neat" addition to the family's collection.

A director, producer and screenwriter himself, Fraser believes the movie "speaks for itself" in terms of the Hollywood "legacy" it has left — and that people only need to turn on their televisions for proof.

"There aren't many movies that are played and rerun 65 years later," he says, referring to how The Ten Commandments famously broadcasts annually around the Easter holiday.

As for the new 4K Ultra HD release, he adds, "Paramount has taken the trouble to make sure that the original VistaVision negative — which had two frames for everyone in it [and] is just a remarkable piece of early film technology — that's preserved, and now restored. They take the trouble to come out with a new 4K version, like they've done here."

Charlton Heston, Fraser Heston
Charlton and Fraser Heston. Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/Shutterstock

Fraser is in awe of his late father's body of work, touching on well-known films the two-time Oscar winner starred in that he believes especially stand the test of time — like Ben-Hur and the original Planet of the Apes series. He even directed Charlton in movies like 1982's Mother Lode and the 1990 made-for-TV adaptation of Treasure Island.

He considers himself to have "won the parent lottery" with Charlton and his mother Lydia Clarke Heston, who were married for 64 years until the actor's death at age 84 back in 2008. (Lydia — a photographer, "adventurer" and "amateur archeologist" as her son describes — died 10 years later, at age 95.)

"I had a fantasy childhood," Fraser raves to PEOPLE of his "wonderful" upbringing. "I grew up all over the world. I knew very early on that ... people paid [my dad] to pretend to be other people, is the way he phrased it."

Since Charlton's death, Fraser says he doesn't often watch his father's movies. But when he does, he really sits down and takes in the "wonderful" process of "how he ages and changes, develops as an actor, as an artist and as a man" throughout the variety of films Charlton starred in over the course of his decades-long career.

According to Fraser, watching Charlton now brings him comfort "in the same way that some people watch home movies." He adds, "I guess my home movie is The Ten Commandments."

The Ten Commandments 4K Release
The Ten Commandments in 4K Ultra HD. Courtesy Paramount

While Fraser hasn't directed or produced a film in more than a decade, he has certainly kept busy. One project — a novel titled Desolation Sound, published in 2015 — is "a mystery thriller about the true story of these severed human feet washing up on the shores of British Columbia," he tells PEOPLE, sharing that the book was co-written by Heather J. McAdams.

"We are developing that as we speak into, hopefully, what will become a 10-part TV series," he reveals.

He also hopes to do a documentary about his father's life that covers everything from his storied film career to the "controversial, politically active" parts, such as his role as head of the National Rifle Association.

"In between two goalposts, if you will ... was a magnificent life of art, of community service, service to this country, all of the marvelous plays he did on stage, five books that he wrote," Fraser says. "He was a great husband, married to my mom for 65 years, and a wonderful father and grandfather."

"That's the Charlton Heston you don't know that I'd like to bring to the screen someday soon," he adds.

The Ten Commandments in 4K Ultra HD is available now on

Related Articles