Peter Ostrum, who went from playing Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to being a veterinarian in Lowville, New York, remembers the late Gene Wilder.

Wilder died Monday, August 29, 2016, at age 83 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease and Ostrum told Variety, that even though he was sick it was still a shock.

“It’s  kind of like losing a parent. You know it’s going to happen, but it’s still a shock. He was not in good health at the end and it was not unexpected by any means, but when it happens it hits you like, ‘Gene is gone and there will never be anyone like him again.'”


Wilder Goes Wonka

While on the set of Willy Wonka, Ostrum says you never knew what Wilder was going to do.

“He was so quirky. You never knew what to expect from Gene. He never let on how he was going to read a line or convey an expression. That’s why the film works, because he made Wonka so unpredictable.”

Credit - Library of Congress
Credit - Library of Congress

From Hollywood to Upstate NY

Willy Wonka was Ostrum’s only role in Hollywood and although he appreciated the fame when he was 12 years old, he didn’t want to be an actor.

Ostrum wanted to work with farms and animals instead and is now a vet at Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Lowville where he works on small and large dairy farms.

30th Anniversary of "Willy Wonka"
Getty Images

Scored the Golden Ticket

Despite the career change, Ostrum says he feels lucky to have been part of such a classic movie and have worked with an icon like Gene Wilder.

"To have made one film and to be associated with Gene, I feel like I really found the golden ticket."

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