Think of Gene Wilder and you think of his many memorable movie roles, from 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory through to Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, and maybe even The Woman in Red, but definitely going back even farther to Bonnie and Clyde and The Producers.
But that’s also led to our biggest misperception of him.
“What a comic, what a funny guy — all that stuff. And I’m not. I’m really not. Except in a comedy, in films. But, I make my wife laugh once or twice in the house. But nothing special. But when people see me in the movie, and if it’s funny, they stop and say things to me about how funny you are. But. I don’t think I’m that funny. I think I can be in the movies.”
Wilder, who turned 80 earlier this month, looked back on his career in a conversation with Robert Osborne at the 92Y. Watch the video highlights, which also include the reverence fans have for Wilder’s performance as Willy Wonka, his disdain at Tim Burton’s “Willy Wonka” remake, and thoughts about working with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. Also, why hasn’t he worked much in the past 20 years? Wilder talked about all of that, as well as the appropriate time for swearing.
Set aside a half-hour and roll the clips!