In an 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.”