What happened to the casting of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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It has been 50 years since Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was first released and a lot has happened for the cast over the past five decades – many of them have decided to turn their backs on comedy in the years since.

Peter Ostrum was only 12 when he landed the role of Golden Ticket winner Charlie Bucket.

The American actor had never starred in a movie before and said Willy Wonka star Gene Wilder took him under his wing. He told Variety: “[Wilder] was the pro and I was the rookie. They were having a lunch break and Gene and I would always buy a chocolate bar and share it on the way back to the set. “

Peter Ostrum played Charlie Bucket. Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures

Despite breaking up the role and being offered a three-movie deal, Ostrum decided he wasn’t so keen on acting after all and declined.

In fact, in the years after the film, Ostrum was even lying to people and claiming that it was actually his brother who starred in the film.

These days he’s happy to admit he was in the movie, but he never returned to acting, but instead trained as a vet – earning his doctorate in 1984.

Augustus Gloop – the poor kid who ended up falling into the river of chocolate – was played by German actor Michaell Bollner.

Bollner has previously said he was unable to bond with his co-stars as his English was not very good.

Michaell Bollner played Augustus Gloop.  Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures
Michaell Bollner played Augustus Gloop. Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures

Although he wanted to pursue an acting career, Bollner’s sensible father made him complete his education and, according to the BBC, he now works as a tax lawyer in Munich.

Julie Dawn Cole skillfully played the spoiled and boring Verruca Salt when she was just 12 – and insists she looks absolutely nothing like the character.

Julie Dawn Cole played Verruca Salt.  Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures
Julie Dawn Cole played Verruca Salt. Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures

Cole stuck with acting, picking up roles in Angels, Eastenders, Poldark and Town of Holby.

Along with her acting, Cole is also a qualified fitness instructor.

TV-obsessed Mike TeeVee was played by Paris Themmen at the age of 14. After the filming of the film, Themmen decided to stay away from acting and focus on “just being a kid”.

    Paris Themmen played Mike TeeVee.  Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures
Paris Themmen played Mike TeeVee. Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures

He’s had a varied career since then, picking up a few acting roles as well as branching out into film production, casting, and real estate.

Tragically, Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde, died in July 2019 after suffering a seizure from which she never recovered.

Nickerson was 13 when she took on the role of Violet – starring one of the film’s most memorable scenes where she exploded like a giant blueberry.

The actor went on to star in numerous television shows before quitting acting in 1978 and working as a receptionist at the doctor’s office.

Denise Nickerson played Violet Beauregade.  Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures
Denise Nickerson played Violet Beauregade. Credit: Today.com/Paramount Pictures

Later in life, she experienced poor health, with a stroke in 2018 and pneumonia the following year, before passing away in 2019 at the age of 62.

Of course there would not have been Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory without Willy Wonka himself, who was played by Gene Wilder.

The highly regarded comedy actor has had an impressive Hollywood career, with roles in absolute classics such as Flaming saddles and Young Frankenstein.

Gene Wilder played Willy Wonka.  Credit: PA / Paramount Pictures
Gene Wilder played Willy Wonka. Credit: PA / Paramount Pictures

Sadly, Wilder passed away in August 2016 at the age of 83 following a secret three-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.


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