Willy Wonka offered a world of pure imagination to kids the world over, but for five young actors it was a very real experience. As it turns out, the movie means as much to them as it does to so many of us, even all these years later.
In an event that could only be trumped by a bean feast, all five Golden Ticket winners reunited on The Today Show to discuss the making of the movie and their warm feelings about it all these years later. Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee), Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), and Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde) were also joined by Rusty Goffe, who played one of the movie’s more identifiable Oompa Loompas, to talk about the iconic movie.
“We think of ourselves as a family, maybe a bit of a dysfunctional family, but a family really,” said Themmen.
While it probably isn’t shocking to find out that the “River of Chocolate” was really just colored water (It was disgusting,” said Goffe), somehow it is jarring to find out that the young actress playing Veruca Salt was really a nice young lady. “She’s nothing like that rotten child,” said Nickerson of her cast mate. That means Julie Dawn Cole should retroactively be given the Academy Award for her transcendent performance of Veruca Salt. No one has ever given a better performance as a spoiled child in the history of cinema.
As for their very famous co-star, Gene Wilder, working with him remains one of their favorite memories. “Five kids, clambering all over you, wanting his attention. There was never any, you know, ‘Please don’t bother Mr. Wilder,’ and we must have been pretty tiresome,” said Cole.
“They were,” whispered Goffe.
It turns out our favorite gum-chewing blueberry, Violet Beauregarde, never got sick of chewing gum while filming. “I was having a ball,” said Nickerson, though it’s not something she still does, saying she gave it up after she returned with 13 cavities.
Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory was released 44 years ago, and none of the kids went on to continue acting (Ostrum became a veterinarian). Fortunately for them, their roles in one of the greatest films ever made has given them a special place in the hearts of so many ever since.
“We are the fortunate ones. We’re here. We got to really see and experience it, and the first thing people do, when they find out who we are, is they smile,” said Nickerson.
“We call it the ‘Wonka Effect,’ when, you know, things are a little bit grim or something, and people ‘ah!’ and their face lights up,” added Cole.
Considering the hosts of The Today Show (and maybe possibly me) found themselves getting emotional just seeing the kids from the movie discuss the film, I’d say “The Wonka Effect” is very real.
So shines a good deed in a weary world, and so does a wonderful movie.
What’s your favorite part of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? If you could only eat one piece of candy from Wonka’s factory, which one would you choose? Because it’s one of the most wonderful movies ever made, let’s talk about all things Wonka in our comments below.