It’s always fun when a director can insert a famous actor into their movie for a quick cameo in a way that doesn’t detract from the film. That’s a fine line to walk, but when you get it right, you usually find out about it afterward and it just makes you like a movie you already enjoyed all the more. The most famous recent example was the discovery that Daniel Craig was slipped into Star Wars Episode VII as a stormtrooper. It’s something that you can definitely notice if you’re listening for his vote, but I had no clue that James Bond was wandering around Starkiller Base until I found out after the fact. Screen Rant has put together a great video going over 10 similar instances in film history where famous stars or directors made a quick appearance in famous movies.
Willy Wonka is gone. Gene Wilder is dead. We’ll never see his mischievous grin or that conspiratorial twinkle in his eyes, we’ll never see the depth and breadth of talent across all medium of entertainment, and we’ll never see the like of the pure imagination he brought to each of his roles ever again. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite films when I was a child (and remains so to this day), not because of the wondrous chocolate factory, but because I saw in Wilder’s performance a kind of manic, sly genius that I wanted. I didn’t want the golden ticket. I wanted to be Gene Wilder.
Wilder had been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for many years and more recently Alzheimer’s, so this shouldn’t be a shock, but this is one of those rare celebrity deaths where I feel like I’ve lost a dear friend. Wilder wasn’t just Wonka, of course, he was a star on broadway, television, and in a host of indelible comedies like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. I’m going to place Variety’s excellent, comprehensive obituary below. This one hurts. Thank you, Gene. Continue reading R.I.P. Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016) *Pure Imagination is Gone*