Gene Wilder would only play Willy Wonka if he was allowed to do this one thing

Gene Wilder’s passing hit us hard. Known as such a phenomenal, comedic actor, Wilder passed away after dealing with Alzheimer’s disease complications. Yet, fortunately for the world that dearly loved him, Wilder left behind so many great memories, including  the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Originally adapted from the Roald Dahl book, Wilder was definitely Willy Wonka in our eyes.

Interestingly enough, it turns out that Wilder only accepted the role of Wonka under one condition. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know exactly what scene Wilder is referring to, when he discussed the script change with director Mel Stuart.

It seems pretty specific — so, what was Wilder thinking when he made this very request?

“From that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth,” Wilder noted.

Perfect. Just perfect. As you know, the rest is history.

Wilder also had a few things to say about Wonka’s eccentric-looking ensemble, as well.

“I don’t think of Willy as an eccentric who holds on to his 1912 Dandy’s Sunday suit and wears it in 1970, but rather as just an eccentric — where there’s no telling what he’ll do or where he ever found his get-up — except that it strangely fits him: Part of this world, part of another,” he wrote in a letter to Stuart. “A vain man who knows colors that suit him, yet, with all the oddity, has strangely good taste. Something mysterious, yet undefined.”

He’s almost a little too clear on what he wants. In fact, it’s almost like he knows the character of Willy Wonka a little too well.


It’s nice to have proof that just like Mr. Wonka, Gene Wilder definitely lived a life of pure imagination.

Filed Under