Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1996: Charlton Heston in Hamlet
Charlton Heston did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Player King in Hamlet.
Kenneth Branagh's epic, complete, Hamlet is a fascinating examination of just how much within Shakespeare's play, given the complexity of elements that are usually passed over in most adaptations. Branagh within his epic approach in every regard includes including all-star cameos per the most minor role. A choice to give essentially each character some impact, although the choice overall is imperfect given some of the more lackluster performances attempting Shakespeare, it also provides major dividends, none greater than Charlton Heston as the Player King. Heston throughout his career was known for a more specific roles, almost as the prototype towards the more modern action hero in many ways. Heston though technically came up through Shakespeare, which seems alien towards so many of his cinematic roles. This training, which was rarely called upon throughout his cinematic career, was finally given the chance to truly shine, though in an unlikely role. The Player King typically is not a part of note in Hamlet, he is there just to basically help reenact Claudius's, via a play, murder of his brother to get a visible reaction of guilt out of the treacherous king. This usually played by no one of note, but you know what "Do we have to put up with this? Can't we get a better actor. I know it's a small part, but I think we can do better than this?" Well no more requests to be said. Although the part is more substantial within the play therefore this version, as the entrance of the players to the kingdom, gets more than just excitement from Hamlet, giving him a chance to essential fanboy over the performance of tragedies he loves so much. It is here we get a proper introduction of the Player King, as he is called upon for a monologue on the tragedy of Priam and Hecuba, an even greater monologue than the one about that one perfect day on Gordon street. As much as a joke about another Heston cameo, this is downright brilliant work from Heston. This as he calls upon all his might as a performer to deliver the story of the dying king. Heston's considerable presence honestly has never been greater, as he commands the screen with an ease, even at his older age, the sheer force of his physical manner has never been more potent. Heston is mesmerizing in a way that quite honestly you may not have expected him to be. This as his sheer ferocity of his work here is incredible, only amplified by that so wonderfully worn yet still refined voice of his. This as he speaks the words so dynamically and so effectively, he grips you into each and every one of them. The extent of this though is remarkable as Heston shows a true effortlessness with Bard, but goes even further than just being well delivered speech. This in his work delivers within it this emotional vulnerability, that grants the speech an even greater impact, as he seethes with an initial rage in his face initially in creating the fury around the story, that slowly segues to tragedy. This in his eyes, that do indeed bare tears, captures so poignantly the loss within his monologue. This as he shows a man fully within the world of his words, and in turn brings us right into that same emotion. The degree of that range of emotion here, almost makes one ponder why Heston seemed to be holding out on us in his other roles. This as his work here is simply stunning. Heston's work actually also is fulfilling a plot point, within the play typically removed, of Hamlet seeing the ability of the actor to elicit such a great emotion, which he could use against Claudius. Heston earns that idea, and then performs it, as we see him in the more expected scene of performing the play that acts out Claudius's betrayal. Though in this scene is less as directly intense in its power, it is still a fantastic scene for Heston, as he delivers such a quiet warmth within the dialogue of the soon to be dead king with his wife. This creating seemingly a sentimental soul as he instead finds the power in the words through more tender emotions. This in offering the sense of an understanding of one's demise in his quiet sense of resignation along with that sense of a loving man. Heston's work here is simply incredible, in that he offers both the blunt force of personality you'd be more likely except from him, though never better, but with a vulnerability and emotional range, you'd never expect in his lesser roles. Heston earns the right of the non-truncated play, through showing the value of what is cut in this magnificent work. It is a true showcase of making the utmost of a minor role, and becoming a true highlight of the film.