Sad news yesterday as the world learned of the passing of Gene Wilder at the age of 83.
And what a legacy he leaves behind. An incredible filmography that includes: Bonnie and Clyde, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and the partnerships with Richard Pryor like Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
But his most iconic role was that of the star in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That’s right, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because it was Willy’s house and Gene’s movie.
The role that spawned a thousand memes and internet trends. Like Condescending Wonka, who was there with his top hat, a smile, and his head resting on his hand, when you had something great to share. “You had a salad at McDonald’s, you must be so healthy” or “Oh, you wear a North Face jacket? You must go on so many adventures.”
But as tired as those memes are, anytime you’re flicking around TV and come across Wonka going Wonka on Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop, you have to stop. I don’t care how many times you’ve seen his reaction to Augustus drinking from the chocolate river, you’re going to watch it again.
And let’s not forget the moment where he cracked on Veruca Salt for loud-talking him during his presentation of lickable wallpaper.
Attaboy, Wonka. Bench the Salt. Listen, Veruca, the wallpaper tastes like fruit and your question is that you think the fruit might be made up? Stand down.
But here, Wilder and Wonka, will always be remembered as the only guy who stepped to Grandpa Joe and called him on his crap. That layabout had done nothing for years, lying in bed in his pajamas for years, but when there’s a golden ticket and a trip to the chocolate factory available, he practically cracks his skull jumping out of bed.
And when that deadbeat gravy-trainer was looking for the lifetime supply of chocolate, Wonka went Mutombo on him and sent his weak bleep into the fifth row.
And of course, he capped it off, with another moment that became internet catnip.
Now you see that clip on twitter every time a sports team loses or a fool gets roasted. But don’t forget, it all came from an incredible performance by an incredible actor.
Rest in peace, Gene Wilder.