In the most recent episode of the PBS animated series “Blank on Blank“, actor and comedian Gene Wilder talks about acting, comedy and his requirements for playing the role of Willie Wonka during a 2007 interview with author Letty Cottin Pogrebin at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.
Gene Wilder: I was offered the part of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When the director came to my house I said: “Well I like the script except when the audience sees Willy Wonka for the first time, I want to come out of the door with a cane and limp my way to the crowd. And they are like: ‘Oh, Willy Wonka, oh he is a cripple. Oh, my god, who thought…. I never knew that.’ And they quiet down, quiet down and Willy Wonka’s cane gets stuck in a brick and he starts to fall forward and he does a forward somersault and jumps up and the crowd cheers and applauds.” And the director said: “What do you want to do that for?” I said: “because from that time on no one will know whether I’m lying or telling the truth.” He said: “you mean if i say no, you won’t do the picture?” I said: “I’m afraid that’s the truth.”