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Wednesday, 26 December, 2001, 11:13 GMT
Charlton Heston rallies the troops
Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston: "Bad men are very interesting"
Veteran film star Charlton Heston has called on the US public to stay optimistic during the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking on BBC World Service's The World Today, he said: "Stay with it. Keep the course. We will win."

Heston, 77, spoke of his intention to visit the forces currently involved in the war in Afghanistan.

"I'm going to be visiting the troops overseas which, as I went through my own war, is something that is important to me," he said.

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During World War II Heston served for two years with the 11th Air Force, stationed off Alaska.


Rights and freedoms make my country great

Charlton Heston
Since then he has championed many causes - he marched with Martin Luther King, campaigned for US presidential candidate John F Kennedy and recently served six terms on the board of the Screen Actors' Guild.

He is currently president of the powerful United States gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, as he believes in the right to own guns.

"Among the many things that the founding fathers did in creating this country was to do with the rights and freedoms that are not found in other countries," he said.

"It is one of the things that makes my country great."

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Heston is best known for his screen portrayals of great figures in history.

He played Moses in The Ten Commandments and won Best Actor in 1959 for chariot-racing epic Ben Hur.

In his most recent performance, Heston played the role of Nazi geneticist Josef Mengele in the film Rua Alguem 5555.

Mengele was known as the Auschwitz Angel of Death, conducting experiments on "hereditary biology and racial hygiene". He died in exile in 1979.

Heston defended his decision to play such a controversial role.

"Bad men are very interesting. Actors always love to play bad men... This was an important part of history and the bad guy lost."

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Charlton Heston
"It's true that I have played a great many historic individuals..."
See also:

01 Mar 00 | Americas
Charlton Heston defends gun laws
18 Dec 01 | Film
Cinemas celebrate 'US spirit'
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