‘Wuthering Heights’

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on May 11, 2003

Who played Heathcliff in the movie Wuthering Heights back in the 1970s? Was it Timothy Dalton?
—Sue D., Illinois

Yes, it was. The actor, who would later play dashing secret agent James Bond, was just 25 years old when he made Wuthering Heights. Taking on a role made famous by the great Sir Laurence Olivier in 1939, Dalton impressed critics and moviegoers, even though the film left many of them cold. Dalton later complained about the film, saying, "We based the relationships on a physical toughness which is there in the language and landscape of the book (by Emily Bronte). It's a savage, analytical book. Now, just at this time Love Story came out. The producers decided that this is where the money was—and they cut 30 minutes, key scenes of the film. All the 'nicer' scenes were left in. We filmed an ending of total despair—Heathcliff collapsing on the moors haunted by Catherine's ghost. Three months later, the producers went off and filmed two extras running down a hill hand in hand as ghosts living happily ever after. But those producers could never understand that the greatest romance is the hardest romance, the one that goes through the trials and bad times, and ends up as some kind of torture. That's what the great poets have always talked about." Other actors who have taken on the romantic role of Heathcliff include Charlton Heston, in a 1950 live television production, and Ralph Fiennes in a 1992 television movie.