Wonka kids pay tribute to Gene Wilder

image copyrightAlamy
image captionWilly Wonka and the golden ticket winners

One of Gene Wilder's best-loved performances was as Willy Wonka in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

The child stars who played Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Violet Beauregarde have been paying their tributes to the actor, who has died aged 83.

Michael Bollner, Augustus Gloop

image copyrightMichael Bollner
image captionMichael Bollner now works as a tax lawyer in Munich

I was very sad of course. We knew he was quite ill and had not been out in public for some time. It was disappointing not to see him on screen these last few years.

He never made it to any shows with the Wonka kids. We do a lot of shows in the US signing autographs and talking to people. The last one was in Los Angeles.

He was a great guy. We had a lot fun making the movie. He was very funny and he made a lot of jokes. I didn't have a huge amount of contact with him as my English was very poor at that time and his German wasn't so good.

The most memorable scene to film was outside his factory where he let the golden-ticket winners in.

It took a few days to make the scene and during it, I was being interviewed by a German newspaper about life on set. The other kids were complaining about having to take lessons during filming.

I luckily didn't have to do any lessons and Gene thought it was funny that it was the German kid who was the one with no schoolwork.

I regret not speaking to him again in the years after the film when my English had improved.

Denise Nickerson, Violet Beauregarde

image copyrightTwitter
image captionDenise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde, tweeted her tribute to Gene Wilder

I really think that I got the Golden ticket. We were just so fortunate to be in such a wonderful environment and Gene was always kind to us.

He would break out into those moments of madness of Wonkamania like, 'There's no earthly way of knowing/which direction we are going." And I had never seen that side of him. I was so amazed my mouth fell open and I think it stayed there for a while.

He could be so many different things but yet as a man he was so soft-spoken and kind and the complete antithesis of what you see during those mad moments as Willy Wonka. He made every role his.

There will never be in my mind anyone who could be Willy Wonka except Gene. He made that character. It was just amazing when you watched his brilliance. He was just a wonderful, wonderful actor.

Julie Dawn Cole, Veruca Salt

image copyrightTwitter
image captionJulie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt, tweeted her respects on Monday night

I do remember the terrible scene where I had to lick the lickable wallpaper. I had to leave my tongue hanging out for what seems hours while they lined up the shots and Gene thought that was just very funny.

I just remember him giggling a lot trying to talk to me and I couldn't answer back as I had to keep my tongue stuck out.

There were lots of little moments. I remember the great partnership he had with Roy Kinnear, they would spark off each other and they were just so funny together.

Lots of those little comedy moments they came up with weren't in the script like little twiddles of the bow-tie and things like that. He was a wonderfully kind, generous and mega-talented man. But without an ego.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionParis Themmen (Mike Teevee), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), director Mel Stuart and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) at the 40th anniversary of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

He was not grand, he was not a star, he was not a diva, he was just very sweet and kind.

'I met Gene Wilder'

People have been sharing their encounters with Gene Wilder. Here's a selection of the best.

Nigel Griffiths

When we were living in San Francisco, California, one would often see him around town. Then one day I dropped into a cafe for a coffee, sat at a table opposite a man who had his back to me. The man turned to face me and guess who... Gene Wilder. I don't know how long we talked for but it seemed like hours. One of the topics was the film Blazing Saddles and never get in the way of a horse after eating beans. By that time, a number of people were standing around our table laughing. One of the high points of my life so far. What a lovely man with a razor sharp sense of humour. RIP Mr Wilder. You made my day that day.

Barbara Mason

As a young woman, and massive fan, I met Gene Wilder in London nearly 20 years ago and engaged in a flirtatious bit of banter. I asked for an autograph and then cheekily a kiss, and with a twinkle in his eye he came right up to me to deliver both. I then watched him perform in a play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and was blown away by his craft as an actor. His performance and timing showed the pure genius of the man.

Laurence Kennedy

I was working in the theatre next door to Gene Wilder when he did Laughter on the 23rd Floor. I was in Communicating Doors at the Gielgud Theatre. We both finished at the same time time and I saw him leave the stage door of the Apollo. I went up, introduced myself as a fellow performer and told him, rather gushingly that Young Frankenstein was my favourite film and I had seen it so many times I virtually knew it by heart. It was raining and he had just finished a gruelling show. He was so charming and we went for a quick drink and he chatted to me for about 10 minutes. Modest, warm and so generous with his time for such a star-struck fan. I left feeling rather special for just being in his presence. A true great and the funniest and most honest of actors. Rest in peace, a sad day.

By Patrick Evans, BBC UGC and Social News team

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