There are few family movies which have stood the test of time quite like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. 45 years after the film was released, it continues to find a place in the hearts of children worldwide, though its appeal is probably unsurprising, after all, what kid doesn't want to imagine being let loose in a chocolate factory?!
Filmed in Munich, Germany in 1970 (because it was a better environment for the setting and cheaper than filming in America), the film didn't actually perform that well at the box office, despite positive reviews. Luckily, during the '80s and mid '90s, thanks to VHS re-releases, the movie achieved cult status.
Now, 45 years later, many of the main cast are all grown up and doing some interesting and cool things. Take a look for yourself:
Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder)
Age Then: 38
Age Now: Gene Wilder sadly passed away On August 29, 2016 at the age of 83
What Else Can I See Him In? Gene Wilder already had a big stage, as well as film, career before Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, though it did become one of his most well known roles.
In 1974 he starred in cult classic, Western comedy film, Blazing Saddles, one of his many collaborations with director, Mel Brooks. He is also famous for his films with Richard Pryor including See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy and Silver Streak.
Wilder's last appearance on screen was in 2003 in the TV show Will and Grace, though he did voice a character in Yo Gabba Gabba in 2015. He also turned his hand to writing, releasing a memoir titled Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, as well as three novels and a collection of stories.
Fun Fact: The famous scene when the audience first sees Wilder as Willy Wonka, when he limps forward with his cane before falling into a perfect somersault and bouncing back up to the crowd's applause, was all Gene Wilder's idea, and was the one condition he had for taking the role.
Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum)
Age Then: 12
Age Now: 58
What Else Can I See Him In? Surprisingly, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was Ostrum's first and last acting role!
While he was offered a three-film contract after he finished shooting Willy Wonka he declined, later saying that "everybody thinks that acting is such a glamorous profession, but it's a difficult profession."
Ostrum is now a veterinarian, living and working in Lowville, New York. He is married and has two children.
Fun Fact: Both Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) admit that they had crushes on Peter during the filming of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and would take turns sitting next to him at lunch.
Mike Teavee (Paris Themmen)
Age Then: 11
Age Now: 57
What Else Can I See Him In? After Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Themmen appeared on stage, with the occasional TV appearance, but took a break from acting at age 14.
Paris has occasionally appeared in front of the camera in films like The Big Lebowski and the TV series Star Trek: Voyager.
These days he works directing commercial casting sessions in Los Angeles and was recently married.
Fun Fact: During the "Pure Imagination" song, Willy Wonka whips his cane around to keep the children back before letting them free to explore the chocolate room. During one of the takes, Gene Wilder actually whacked Paris with the cane!
- 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory' Star Gene Wilder Dies At 83
- Enter A World Of Pure Imagination With Gene Wilder's 11 Best Movie Quotes
- 8 Amazing Facts You Probably Never Knew About Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole)
Age Then: 12
Age Now: 58
What Else Can I See Her In? Though Willy Wonka remains Cole's most famous role, she is the only one of the five children to have continued acting.
Cole worked through the 70s in British drama show Angels, and Dutch show Van Der Valk, as well as Poldark in 1977. She most recently appeared in British TV series Casuality, Emmerdale, and Holby City.
She has a number of theatrical credits to her name, and in 2002, Julie Dawn Cole developed a children's acting drama school called Centerstage.
Fun Fact: The scene when Wonka limps out of the factory to greet the children fooled Julie Dawn Cole so much that she thought that Gene Wilder had really injured his leg (and that the filming would have to be temporarily halted because of it), so her reaction to his somersault was completely genuine.
Violet Beauregarde (Denise Nickerson)
Age Then: 13
Age Now: 59
What Else Can I See Her In? After Willy Wonka, Nickerson continued acting throughout the '70s. She starred in the TV series The Electric Company and even in an episode of The Brady Bunch.
She also starred in many TV movies, the last of which was Zero to Sixty before, at the age of 21 Nickerson chose to quit acting and has since only occasionally appeared on television.
Fun Fact: After filming Willy Wonka the after effects of the movie still lived on. One day in math class kids started pointing at her and laughing, and one of her friends told her she was turning purple. The makeup that had been used on her for the film had apparently seeped into her pores and started to resurface!
Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner)
Age Then: 12
Age Now: 57
What Else Can I See Him In? After Willy Wonka, although Bollner wanted to continue acting, his father made him finish his education and afterwards he never acted again.
These days Augustus, who grew to a whopping 6'7", runs a successful accounting business in Munich, Germany (the same city Willy Wonka was filmed in).
Fun Fact: Bollner, who is from Germany, didn't know any English when he was cast in the role as Augustus, he had to be coached through his lines and learned the words phonetically! These days he speaks fluent English.
Is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory one of your favorite childhood movies?