It can be tough when a beloved celebrity dies. Though we may not know him or her personally, there is a great feeling of loss to be experienced in coming to terms with the fact that someone who helped shape the world of entertainment, and perhaps our comedic identities, is no longer with us. Since the legendary Gene Wilder passed away earlier this week, the internet has been inundated with tributes of all kinds celebrating his work and mourning his final curtain call. And as we go on living, the tributes will eventually fall by the wayside and we’ll go on to focus on something different. But what will remain is Wilder’s work. All of it. We get to remember every bit of joy he gave to the world.
Helping us remember is this Blank On Blank segment from 2014, which rendered pieces of Wilder’s 2007 interview for 92Y with Letty Cottin Pogrebin to animated form. In the video, we get a rare look inside Wilder’s outlook on comedy, life, and the truth.
Perhaps most defining to the performer was his story about the first time he ever consciously tried to be funny when, as a young child, his mother’s doctor plainly instructed him to “try to make her laugh.” As time went on, he was able to carry out the doctor’s prescription and to eventually find the confidence and courage within himself to perform for others.
The video ends with a lovely portion of the interview in which Wilder explains the motivation behind Willy Wonka’s initial limp while addressing the crowd for the first time in the 1971 film. It turns out it wasn’t strictly a silly moment to be played for laughs and, in fact, laid the groundwork for the characters (and we, the viewers) to never really know if the chocolatier was lying or telling the truth. That one magical movie moment let us all know that we should be at least somewhat wary of Wonka, which only added to those moments in the film where he seemed a bit off or downright terrifying.
As one might expect, the interview is chock full of similar fun tidbits and comedic wisdom.
Gene Wilder is gone but will never be forgotten as long as we continue to celebrate the wonderful things he brought to the world. What are some of your favorite Gene Wilder moments? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Image: Blank On Blank