HE WAS A VERY SWEET MAN

Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN -

Two of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka & The Choco­late Fac­tory co-stars on their Golden Ticket ex­pe­ri­ence

Julie Cole (Veruca Salt): I met Gene be­fore film­ing started. I re­mem­ber writ­ing home to my mum say­ing I didn’t think he was at all as you’d imag­ine Mr Wonka to be. But he was lovely and kind and a very sweet man. Michael Boll­ner (Au­gus­tus Gloop): He was far away from me as a shy kid at that time, but he talked to me! How ex­cit­ing!

Cole: He would hang around on the set, so we saw a lot of him: there was no, “Mr Wilder is in his dress­ing room,” or any of that. He was very sweet to me par­tic­u­larly, I think, be­cause I didn’t have any fam­ily with me [in Mu­nich]. I was on my own for three months with a chap­er­one.

Boll­ner: One of the best mo­ments was an in­ter­view Gene and I gave to­gether to a Ger­man news­pa­per, in front of the en­trance of the Choco­late Fac­tory on a sunny af­ter­noon. Me and a star, and we were treated at the same level. He laid his arm around me and made a lit­tle con­ver­sa­tion with me. He treated me like an old friend.

Cole: I saw him again twice, over the years. He did Laugh­ter On The 23rd Floor, the Neil Si­mon play, in the West End, and then he was also a guest on This Morn­ing when I was a con­trib­u­tor. He gave me a big hug both times. He said, “Well, I guess Veruca wasn’t such a bad egg.”

Boll­ner: [All us Wonka kids] do con­ven­tions in the USA once or twice a year. There was once a show with Gene, but un­for­tu­nately I wasn’t there. I do [feel sorry to] have missed some­thing that can­not be re­peated.

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