- “Willy Wonka” actor Veruca Salt has said that Gene Wilder personally made sure she was taken care of on set.
- “I was the only child in Germany who didn’t have a family member with me,” she said.
- Even 50 years later, the child actors of “Willy Wonka” speak warmly of their collaboration with the late Wilder.
- Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” star Julie Dawn Cole said that Gene Wilder personally made sure that someone looked after Cole when he found out that the then actor’s family did not accompany him on the set.
In June, Cole, along with former costars Peter Ostrum (who played Charlie Bucket), Michael Bollner (who played Augustus Gloop), and Paris Themmen (who played Mike Teavee), spoke about the late Wilder in a conversation with Insider. to mark the film’s 50th anniversary on Wednesday.
Based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the 1971 film tells the story of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka (played by Wilder) who invites a group of golden ticket-winning children into his secret chocolate factory.
Cole, who played Veruca Salt, described Wilder as a “warm and kind person” with “piercing blue eyes”.
Cole, who said she was “the only child in Germany who did not have a family member” on the set, recalled how Wilder found out she was unaccompanied a few weeks after the start of the filming. (The film was primarily shot in Munich, Germany.)
According to Cole, her mother worked in England and the 12-year-old child actress was essentially “all alone over there in Germany” with just a “registered chaperone”.
Cole said that when Wilder found out she was alone, he told Roy Kinnear (who played Veruca’s onscreen father, Mr. Salt) and Jack Albertson (who played Charlie Joe’s grandfather ): “Look, boys, she’s alone here. We have to watch over her.”
“And they did, they all took care of me,” Cole said. “So that was Gene. He looked around a lot and took care of everyone. A very, very nice man.”
Bollner, from Germany, also recalled a “fun interview” experience involving Wilder, with a German newspaper.
“Gene doesn’t speak German and I don’t speak English very well. The reporter doesn’t speak English at all,” Bollner told Insider during the same 50th anniversary conversation in June.
“Gene was very nice and very kind to all of us and he tried to make the most of it,” said Bollner, who is now an accountant based in Germany.
The actor who played Charlie Bucket called Wonka’s upcoming prequel “exciting.”
Since the release of “Willy Wonka” in 1971, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has been remade into musicals, video games, and a 2005 Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp.
More recently, Deadline reported in May that “Little Women” actor Timothée Chalamet is set to star in an upcoming Warner Bros. movie. exploring Wonka’s life before he started his chocolate factory.
The prequel is slated for release in 2023, according to Deadline.
Peter Ostrum, who played the main character Charlie Bucket in the 1971 film, told Insider he was “excited” by the prequel starring Chalamet.
“I want to know what happened to Willy Wonka before I meet him,” Ostrum said. “So any references, or anything new, that they can do with Willy Wonka are positive.”
Themmen agreed and even said he would be very open to making an appearance in the prequel if the filmmakers asked him to.
“I think it’s good for them that they don’t do the remake,” Themmen told Insider. “They are doing a prequel because that way it will avoid a direct comparison.”
He added: “Especially in the realm of Gene Wilder, that could still be a good thing. Because he was so wonderful in our version of the film.”