Anybody who watched “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will agree that the set design was something out of this world. Up until this point in time, never in the history of cinema had we seen a crazier, trippy, or more colorful setting.
As it turns out, the iconic chocolate river was made of real chocolate, imagine that! But the rest of the candy was pretended wax props. Apparently, Wilder actually took a bite out of some flower cups and chewed real wax during his “Pure Imagination” song. Eating wax props while keeping the scene going? Now, that’s what we call committing to your craft!
Wilder Had Conditions to Play Willy Wonka
When Wilder accepted the role of Wonka, he had some interesting conditions for the director. He said that his character should first enter the film by “coming out of the door with a cane and walking toward the crowd with a limp. The crowd will think Wonka is a cripple, but as I walk closer, my cane gets stuck, and as I’m about to fall, I jump and do a huge somersault, and everybody applauds.”
This is exactly how Wilder first enters the scene in the movie, and it was truly unforgettable. Wilder explained that “from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”
He Shaped Willy Wonka’s Character
It's hard to imagine a Willy Wonka portrayed by anyone other than Wilder, and odds are that no other actor would have had the same character-shaping ideas that he had. Few people know that Wilder was behind the character development of the insanely unique Willy Wonka.
While in pre-production, Wilder made several suggestions on his costume, one of them being that his hat had to be 2 inches shorter. He also had a hand in the color and cut of his iconic suit. Nearly every single suggestion of Wilder’s was heard and taken into account for the final costume. This ultimately made Wonka the uniquely trippy character we all know and love.
Roald Dahl Didn’t Like Wilder as Willy Wonka
Once a best-selling book gets adapted into a movie, there are bound to be some differences of opinion as to any and all aspects of the adaptation. If you ask anybody what they think about Wilder’s portrayal of the cooky Willy Wonka, they’ll say he was perfect. Anybody but the actual author of the book, that is.
It seems that children’s author Roald Dahl, writer of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” supposedly hated Wilder’s portrayal. According to close sources, Dahl said that “there were many good things in the movie," but he had serious reservations about Wilder’s performance, which he thought ‘pretentious’ and "not ‘bouncy’ enough.”
Wilder Hated Tim Burton’s Version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Dahl was within his right to not like Wilder's take on his character. So was Wilder when he confessed to not liking his Wonka successor Johnny Depp. When news broke out that master of gothic fantasy Tim Burton was set to direct a remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” people couldn’t wait for its release. Unfortunately, when it finally came out in 2005, it didn’t live up to the hype.
Even Wilder publicly stated that he had hated Burton’s remake, going as far as to call it “an insult.” Wilder said, “Johnny Depp, I think, is a good actor, but I don’t care for that director. He’s a talented man, but I don’t care for him doing stuff as he did.”