A movie about a candy factory where anything is possible is definitely crazy, but some of the strange Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory behind-the-scenes stories make it even weirder. Although the 1971 movie - adapted from the Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - was a commercial disappointment when it premiered, later television showings and its release on VHS turned it into a colorful cult classic beloved by children and adults.
Some of the weirdest Willy Wonka stories come from the unique ideas of director Mel Stuart and the quirky creativity of Gene Wilder, who reportedly only took the part after being allowed to perform in the style of a Buster Keaton physical comedy gag. Even the all-singing, all-dancing squad of Oompa Loompas have a few crazy tales.
There are freaky behind-the-scenes stories about The Wizard Of Oz, but these tidbits from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory are both strange and a little sweet. Break out the chocolate because you're going to want to curl up and watch the movie all over again.
The creamy chocolate river that runs through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Room is one of the film's most recognizable creations, but you probably wouldn't want to drink from it. The crew filled the river with 150,000 gallons of water mixed with chocolate powder and real cream to give it texture.
But after sitting under the hot lights for a few days, the cream curdled and the whole thing began to smell. We hope they filmed the scene where Augustus Gloop (Michael Bollner) falls in on the first day.
Several times during filming, director Mel Stuart used the element of surprise to get realistic reactions from his actors.
Most of the cast hadn't seen Wonka's Chocolate Room until they entered it during filming. They were also surprised by the darkness of the boat tunnel scene and frightened by the creepy, improvised ditty Gene Wilder sings. Wilder also shocked the cast by playing Wonka with more anger than he showed in rehearsals, and they didn't know he would do a somersault when Wonka first appears onscreen.
Any candy lover would be delighted to be set free in a place like the Chocolate Room, where every item is created from something sweet. But Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, said most of that set was actually inedible. The giant gummy bears were actually made of plastic with partially edible ears, many of the candy bars were made of wood, and the lickable wallpaper tasted more like paper than snozzberries.
Gene Wilder also had to do numerous takes chewing a "candy" teacup that was actually made of wax, and he couldn't spit until the camera stopped rolling.
The nine men and one woman who made up the cast of the Oompa Loompas were circus performers from England and Turkey. Themmen said some of them were heavy drinkers who could get rowdy, and they liked to prank other cast members.
"In those days, when you wanted to have your shoes shined, you'd leave them outside of your hotel room door," Themmen said. "One night, the Oompa Loompas grabbed all the shoes, tied the laces together, and left them in a pile to be found in the morning."