Six members of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory cast reunited for a Today Show appearance on Wednesday, taking fans on a trip through memory lane or better yet, Willy Wonka’s factory.
On hand for the Wonka reunion were Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), Paris Themman (Mike Teevee), Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop), and head Oompa Loompa, Rusty Goffe. There was no sign of Willy Wonka himself, actor Gene Wilder.
The Wonka cast reminisced about working together and remarked about the positivity of the experience.
“We are the fortunate ones. We’re here. We got to see…really see and experience it. And the first thing people do when they find out who we are is they smile,” Nickerson said to the agreement of her Wonka cast mates.
“Will call it the Wonka effect,” Cole agreed when discussing the joy such reunions bring to the fans.
And while Violet didn’t turn violet, and Mike Teevee wasn’t shrunken down to the size of a thimble by Wonkavision, we discovered that August Gloop’s chocolate river swim was just some Wonka movie trickery. Yes, that’s right kids, Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate river was nothing more than “disgusting” colored water, according to “Augustus” himself, Michael Bollner.
And just what have the Wonka kids been up to for the past 44 years? According to a 2011 article by New York Daily News, most of the Wonka kids left acting to pursue other careers. Michael Bollner became a tax attorney, Denise Nickerson became an accountant, Paris Themmen developed a career in commercial casting, and the only kid worthy enough to inherit the Willy Wonka factory, Peter Ostrum, grew up to become a veterinarian.
The only Wonka kid to pursue an acting career that has spanned more than 40 years was everybody’s favorite Willy Wonka brat, Julie Dawn Cole, aka “Veruca Salt.” And it turns out Cole may have been better at the acting thing than anyone realized. When the Wonka cast was asked which person was least like their Willy Wonka character, they all seemed to agree that it was Julie. “She is nothing like that rotten child,” Denise Nickerson said to Cole’s amusement.
According to the interview, various members of the Wonka cast frequently attend conventions much to the delight of fans who have deemed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory a classic. Most recently, Cole and our favorite cartwheeling Oompa Loompa Rusty Golfe attended Spooky Empire in Orlando.
— Julie Dawn Cole (@realverucasalt) October 29, 2015
Despite the absence of Willy Wonka himself, actor Gene Wilder, the cast reflected fondly on their experience in working with him. The 82-year-old Wilder has become reclusive over the past decade, but he was certain to speak out in 2013 about Tim Burton’s 2005 remake of the film that made him an icon. According to the Huffington Post, Wilder thought Johnny Depp, who portrayed Wonka in the 2005 remake, was a good actor, but said of the film, “I think it’s an insult.”
Whether or not Wilder is right will be determined if the cast of that film is as beloved as the original Willy Wonka cast in another 34 years.
Watch the full Willy Wonka reunion cast interview here:
[Cover photo courtesy of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Official Facebook.]