HE WAS A VERY SWEET MAN
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.