Jerome Silberman (June 11, 1933 – August 29, 2016), known professionally as Gene Wilder, was an American actor. He portrayed Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Wilder auditioned to play Willy Wonka for Mel Stuart's 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Before he was about to leave the auditioning station, Mel Stuart (who happened to be a Gene Wilder fan) ran after him and offered him the role. Wilder only accepted the role under the condition that he could do a surprise somersault in the scene of Willy Wonka's first appearance. He wanted this "because from that time on, no one will know if I'm lying or telling the truth."

Three of his films after The Producers (1968), including Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, were box office failures. When Wilder accepted his next role, he was hoping that it would be a hit and put an end to his series of flops, which it did.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

In 2007, Wilder mentioned that he chose not to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He said he saw a few pieces of the promotion of Johnny Depp's portrayal of Willy Wonka and was put off, adding that "I don't want to be disappointed in him". In 2013, Wilder also mentioned that he considered the film "an insult".


On August 29, 2016, Wilder died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 83.


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