Peter Ostrum is a former child star known for playing the role of Charlie Bucket in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Unlike most child stars, Peter willingly chose to exit the industry after his most iconic role and do something else with his life. Today, Peter is a veterinarian who works in New York, though he often reminisces about the role that made him famous. Join Facts Verse as we explore why Willy Wonka star Peter Ostrum stopped acting after his only role.
When Peter Ostrum was cast to play the role of Charlie Bucket in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the experience was not all that dissimilar to the story of Charlie Bucket receiving the iconic Golden Ticket in the movie itself. In the story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was based upon the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the character of Charlie ends up receiving a Golden Ticket against all odds. This Golden Ticket then allows him to meet, and eventually inherit the chocolate factory of, Willy Wonka. In real life, Peter Ostrum was swept away from his normal childhood and given the opportunity to grace cinema screens alongside Hollywood legend Gene Wilder just as seemingly out of the blue.
Peter Ostrum was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1957. The young boy got into performing as an extracurricular activity, and was spotted by talent agents while performing at a children’s theater during the sixth grade. These talent agents believed that Peter would be perfect for the role of Charlie Bucket, and they subsequently auditioned him. Peter ended up getting the part, and the rest is history! Some may wonder if it was a bad experience during the filming of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that caused Peter to quit the entertainment industry after production was over. However, the actor seems to have had a good time making the movie.
Peter Ostrum Enjoyed Playing Charlie Bucket
There are numerous things about filming Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factor that former child star Peter Ostrum has good memories of. For one thing, he was glad to get the opportunity to work with such Hollywood legends as Gene Wilder and Jack Albertson. The movie was also filmed in Germany, and Peter claims that it was an exciting experience for him as a child to be travelling around the world. If Peter Ostrum enjoyed the filming of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so much, audiences may wonder why the star decided to leave acting behind. It seems that, soon after filming of the classic movie wrapped, Peter became interested in a new passion that overtook acting.
Peter Ostrum claims that he was offered a three-picture contract after his successful performance in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, though he turned down the opportunity. The reason that the child star turned down the opportunity was because there was something else that was going on in his life that had overtaken his interest in acting. When Peter came home from filming Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Germany, he found that his parents had bought a horse. The child star then became obsessed with this horse, and would spend all of his time with it.
Peter Ostrum claims that it was while spending time with his family’s new horse that he became interested in becoming a veterinarian. Peter would stay by the horse’s side whenever the veterinarian would visit, and the young boy became interested in what the medical professional was doing. Pretty soon, Peter was dreaming about becoming a veterinarian himself. Because of this, he turned his sights away from the screen. Today, Peter is still a practicing veterinarian, though he helps cows instead of horses.
Peter Left Hollywood to Become a Veterinarian
Nowadays, Peter Ostrum runs a veterinary practice out of New York, and he does most of his work in the dairy industry. When he isn’t working, Peter makes the occasional public appearance related to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and his role in the iconic film. He also allegedly does some public speaking at schools in his area, where he talks mostly about how he decided to become a veterinarian.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is now over 50 years old, and the property is about to be revived in the form of a prequel starring Dune’s Timothee Chalamet and directed by Paddington’s Paul King. According to Peter, who recently made a public appearance via livestreaming to celebrate the original film’s anniversary, he’s excited about the future of the franchise. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Peter Initially Regretted Being a Child Star
For the initial years of Peter Ostrum’s adult life, the former child star was hesitant to talk about his iconic role in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The film was not all that big of a success during it’s initial release and didn’t attain it’s classic status until years later, when it was released on television. Many have theorized that this lack of a major reception was the reason that Peter called it quits on acting soon after the film’s initial release. However, the decision to leave Hollywood behind was all Peter’s, and he remains proud of his choice to become a veterinarian instead of pursuing further success in the entertainment industry.
Though Peter Ostrum still has no qualms about leaving future stardom behind to start up his veterinary practice, the former child star has since lightened up on his stance regarding not reminiscing about his iconic role in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Though the film adaptation deviated form the source material by making Willy Wonka the titular character instead of Charlie, the boy was still very much the main character of the film. The role required a lot of the child actor, and he gave it his all!
In 2005, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was adapted to cinema screens yet again. This time, the name was kept intact. That was the first time that Peter Ostrum was forced to watch someone else portray the screen role that he had originated. In 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the titular role of Charlie Bucket was played by child performer Freddie Highmore, who has many more credits to his name than just Charlie. Freddie Highmore has even found continued success in the entertainment industry as an adult, with him having a successful television series on ABC by the name of The Good Doctor.
Willy Wonka Is Being Revived for a Second Time
2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory saw Johnny Depp take over the role of Willy Wonka from Gene Wilder. Now, it appears that a third actor is preparing for the task to play Roald Dahl’s iconic literary creation. That third actor would be the aforementioned Timothee Chalamet, who is set to portray the character of Willy Wonka in an upcoming prequel film by the name of Wonka. After all these years, Peter is glad that the property keeps coming back to cinemas.
Though Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will likely continue to be rebooted in one form or another until the end of time, there will always be a special place in the culture for the original film. People still return to the magic of the original more than the 2005 adaptation, and this will likely stay the same in the wake of any upcoming reboot. Part of what made the original film so special was it’s practical effects. Many have wondered since the original’s 1971 release whether all of the candy that made up Willy Wonka’s titular factory was as real as it appeared to be. Sadly, Peter Ostrum claims that the vast majority of supposedly edible candy that can be seen in the film was just part of the set.
According to Peter Ostrum, the only candy that was real on the set of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the candy that was meant for eating, which was still quite a bit of candy! One piece of candy that wasn’t real was the Everlasting Gobstopper that Charlie can be seen handing back to Willy Wonka at the very end of the film. In addition to being the end of the film proper, this was also the last scene that Peter Ostrum filmed with Gene Wilder. Peter retains fond memories about this final day of filming, which also ended up being his very last day working in Hollywood altogether. Gene Wilder sadly passed away in 2016. Despite Johnny Depp taking on the role of Willy Wonka in the aforementioned 2005 film, Gene’s take undeniably remains the character’s most iconic screen representation.
Peter Ostrum left Hollywood after performing the role of Charlie Bucket in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and never looked back. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that the former child star that played the character of Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory never took on another role, and that he works today as a veterinarian in New York? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!