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

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  • 'Something mysterious, yet undefined.’

    Known as such a phenomenal, caring and comedic actor, Gene Wilder passed away after dealing with Alzheimer’s disease complications on August 29th, 2016.

    Yet, 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 (and is still one of our favourite book to film adaptations), 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.

    ‘When I make my first entrance,’ he explained, ‘I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself; but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.’

    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 colours that suit him, yet, with all the oddity, has strangely good taste. Something mysterious, yet undefined.’

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

    From the editors of Hello Giggles

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