When released in 1971, no one thought Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would live on for eternity, remembered 44 years later as one of the all-time greatest family films ever made. But here we are, on the sweet tasting anniversary of this beloved classic, and it's more popular than ever. And the adventure, based on the works of Roald Dahl, continues to charm generation after generation. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory may look a tad dated with its practical painted sets and special effects that were of the era, but it has never lost its magic. And being an odd duck of a movie, it has decided to celebrate an odd duck anniversary. To look back on 44 years of candy-coated bliss, The Today Show gathered some of the original cast for a sit down chat. And this is one gang that's sure to rot out your teeth with their sugary smiles.
Gene Wilder, who has been in retirement since 2003, decided to stay hidden away from this reunion. But that didn't stop some of this magical adventure's more remembered famous faces from stopping by to say hi to all their fans. In attendance were Peter Ostrum, who played the lead Charlie Bucket. He was joined by Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Paris Themmen (Mike TeeVee), Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloope), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde) and Rusty Goffe (head Oompa Loompa). As you can see in the video below, some of them even dressed up for the occasion.
After 44 years, this gang has remained rather close, which isn't always the case when it comes to a classic movie. Each character has their own set of die hard fans, and there has never been much jealously running through this tight-knit group. Friends for life, these six have formed an even stronger bond over the last decade as they travel to various conventions and fan events around the world. Says Paris Themmen about his Willy Wonka family.
"We think of ourselves as part of a family. Maybe a bit of a dysfunctional family, but a family really."
During this group interview, it is revealed that the chocolate river seen on screen in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory wasn't what most fans suspect. It wasn't sweet. It wasn't delicious. In fact, it was just plain old very 'disgusting' water. And you definitely didn't want to drink it or take a deep dive in its rushing waves.
For a group of mostly kid actors, this sextet surprisingly had nothing bad to say about the production, or the fame they found in the wake of its release. They also spoke highly of their former co-star Gene Wilder. He never looked down on his cast of children as anything but professionals, and didn't treat them any differently than the adults. He always had time for their questions. And he would listen to each and every last one of them if any problems ever arose on set.
While sequels are all the rage, don't expect Willy Wonka 2 to ever happen. At least with this cast. Only Rusty Goffe is still working as an actor. Leading man Peter Ostrum decided to become a veterinarian, leaving Charlie Bucket behind for good. But when the man has such a classic movie like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, who needs to get greedy. Check out the original cast as they reunite in the video below.