Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
In 1971, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was one of the most popular movies. It is the story of a young boy named Charlie Bucket, who was very poor. He lived with his parents and his grandparents, and they barely had enough money to get by. When Willy Wonka announced a contest that would allow five children to visit his chocolate factory, Charlie dreamed of being the winner.
The Golden Tickets
Willy Wonka announced that he was putting five golden tickets in his candy bars. The children who found the tickets would visit his factory. This caused chaos all over the world because children from everywhere wanted to visit. The first four winners were Augustus Gloop from Germany, Veruca Salt from the U.K., Mike Tevee from Arizona, and Violet Beauregarde from Montana. When the last ticket was found, Charlie realized that he would never get to visit the factory. When it turned out that the ticket was counterfeit, Charlie found money on the street, and he bought a candy bar that contained the fifth winning golden ticket.
Charlie and his grandfather, a war veteran who hadn’t walked in 20 years, went to the factory. Each of the children was spoiled and selfish, and one by one, they broke the rules that were set. As the rules were broken, bad things happened, and the children were forced to stop the tour. Charlie was the last child standing. He and his grandfather had broken the rules, but they managed to escape tragedy just in time. The reason Willy Wonka invited children to his factory was to choose one to inherit the factory. Charlie was the one, and his family was set for life.
The boy who landed the role of Charlie Bucket was 12-year-old, Peter Ostrum. Peter was born in Texas in 1957. When his family moved to Cleveland, he joined a performance company there. It was at the Cleveland Playhouse Children’s Theater where he was discovered. The film’s producers took a Polaroid of him and used a tape recorder to record him reading from Roal Dahl’s book, which the movie was based on. They told Peter that they would call him if they were interested. After two months, he heard nothing, so he assumed that they had selected another child.
Getting the Call
After giving up on the role, Peter got a call. The producers asked him to go to New York to audition. After the audition, it took another four weeks before he learned that he got the part. The movie was being filmed in the German town of Munich, and it was starting in August 1970. At the time, the town was preparing to host the 1972 Olympics, so Peter was there when they were building the Olympic city. He says that being there was very exciting.
Filming took several weeks, and Peter says that it was almost like being an exchange student. While on set, he bonded with Gene Wilder, who played Willy Wonka. He says that the entire cast and crew were like family, but he felt especially close to Gene. Peter says that Gene was a gentle man and a gentleman. Gene would often buy candy bars then share them with Peter on set. When Gene passed away in 2016, Peter says that it was upsetting. He says that it was almost like losing a parent.
Three Picture Deal
After the film was released and Peter was a star, the studio offered him a three-picture deal. He says that most people believe that acting is a glamorous job, but it is a difficult job. By the time Peter was offered the deal, he already found a new passion. He decided to work toward his dream and keep acting as a backup plan. This is the opposite of what most actors do.
Not long after Peter returned home from Germany, his family bought a horse. Peter started helping in the stables, and he watched the vets closely when they came to care for the horses. He says that the vet made a significant impression on him. It sparked his interest, and he wanted to become one himself.
Testing the Waters
Hollywood didn’t forget about Peter, and they asked him to spend a week in California for testing. He decided that if he didn’t try to pursue his dream of being a vet, he would never forgive himself. He managed to get into the prestigious Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, and he graduated in 1984.
When Peter became a vet, he left Hollywood behind. He even told people that it was his brother who played Charlie Bucket, not him. The only time he returned to his Hollywood roots was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He got together with his former costars, and they talked about the movie. After doing some press, Peter returned home to his veterinary practice. Here’s why you never see Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory anymore.