Original cast of 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' celebrates 50th anniversary of classic film

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021
'Willy Wonka' cast celebrates film's 50th anniversary
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"Every time you see it, you see something new." The original cast of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' reflects on the 50th anniversary of the film that changed their lives.

HOLLYWOOD, LOS ANGELES -- The original 1971 version of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Gene Wilder brought Willy Wonka to life in a film based on the children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Five lucky kids who find golden tickets in their chocolate bars win a special tour of the candy factory - and maybe more.

Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket, thinks repeat viewers will get something new and fresh out of watching the film again.

"That's one of the joys of seeing this film. Every time you see it, you see something new," said Ostrum. "A child can see it. They'll see something. A teenager will see it, they'll see something. And people our age will see it and they see something completely different."

You might say that about the 50th anniversary edition of the film. It's in 4K Ultra HD. Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teavee, explains.

"They've improved the HD quality of the resolution and the color and the sound. And, really, what they were going for was an experience closest to what you would have seen if you were actually there on the day," said Themmen.

A half century later, it's a much-loved classic piece of cinema. But Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt, said it didn't start out that way.

"Willy Wonka, as you know, childhood stuff and 'Willy Wonka' didn't do very well at the box office at the time so it kind of came and went and was forgotten," said Cole.

"And I always told my friends and my family, here I made some 20, 30, 50 years ago the film of 'Willy Wonka' and it was great fun, and it's very famous in U.S. And they say, "Fine, it's not famous in Germany at all!" laughed Michael Bollner, who played Augustus Gloop.

The three main boys in the film never acted again. But the experience has been pure joy for decades.

"I'm driving around town in a blue Tesla with a Mike Teavee license plate. So, L.A., if you see me, feel free to honk and say hi!" said Themmen.

This 50th anniversary edition becomes available June 29.