1. Gene Wilder came up with the idea for Wonka to make his entrance with a limp and do that famous somersault.
In fact, he told director Mel Stuart that he wouldn’t take the role unless they rewrote the scene that way. When Stuart asked Wilder why, Wilder responded, “Because from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth.”
2. Director Mel Stuart didn’t allow the actors to see the Chocolate Room before they shot the scene.
According to Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie, Stuart wanted them all to have genuine reactions of wonder to the room and figured this was the best way.
3. In fact, that was a recurring tactic for Stuart: He didn’t warn anyone about the infamous boat scene either.
Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee) says his character is pretty happy-go-lucky for most of the movie, but is visibly uncomfortable in that scene because he, as an 11-year-old kid, was honestly a bit scared of Wilder.
In the DVD featurette, Ostrum (Charlie) reveals that he and Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe) were also not warned that Wilder would be yelling at them in the office scene. Wilder rehearsed the scene in a much calmer tone so as to surprise them and get an honest reaction during filming, but claims he wanted desperately to warn Ostrum.
4. The actors claim that anything they ate in the Chocolate Room was edible, but the chocolate river was NOT chocolate.
Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, claims the river was mostly water with some food coloring added, as cocoa powder didn’t thicken the mixture at all. Michael Bollner, who played Augustus Gloop, says it tasted “disgusting.”
5. Wilder also says in the DVD commentary that his delicious-looking buttercup was actually made of wax.
He would chew on it until they yelled “cut,” then spit it out. Sorry, everyone.