Many people are familiar with Gene Wilder. Older generations are of course acquainted with his numerous performances on the big screen like in Bonnie and Clyde, and Young Frankenstein. Younger generations on the other hand will recall his spectacular performance on Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or at the very least, recognise his face from the meme below. To pay tribute to the actor, a few members of our editorial team share their favourite scenes from the fantastical film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel.
Before the abomination that was Johnny Depp’s character in the Willy Wonka reboot, there was Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. And what a character he was. Sharp-tongued, witty and wise, he was everything I envisioned Willy Wonka to be when I read the book as a young child. His masterful first appearance in the film was actually his condition to acting in the movie. Wilder told the scriptwriter that if he couldn’t limp his way down the carpet before doing a forward roll, then he wouldn’t do the movie. And what was the purpose of the theatrics? “Then no one will know from that point on whether I’m lying or telling the truth.” Brilliant.
Farhan Shah, Associate Editor
There’s nothing quite like telling someone to “fuck off” and doing it in style. Wilder’s delivery of the now iconic line (also parodied in DotA 2 so Sean hears it rather often) sets the perfect tone for ending a conversation. We bid you a good day too, Gene Wilder.
Sean Mossadeg, Senior Writer
Towards the end of this well-known song in Mel Stuart’s musical fantasy, Willy Wonka sits among shrubbery, picks up a flower-shaped cup and sips from it before delivering the line:
“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be”
While I feel the song has nothing exceptional about it, Gene Wilder’s pensive delivery of that particular line struck me and left a bittersweet taste of melancholy in my mouth. It takes more than just talent to achieve such a delivery. You’re truly free now, Mr Wilder.
Terence Ruis, Contributing Writer
Best remembered for his portrayal as an eccentric candy tycoon, Wilder blessed the world with the magic of Roald Dahl, sugar and most of all, butterscotch – with extra emphasis on the ‘scotch’.
Hannah Choo, Writer