The death of Gene Wilder at age 83, has been a sudden shock to the entertainment world. The ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ star had been secretly battling Alzheimer’s disease. He gave his final interview in 2013 and you can watch it in its entirety here and find out what the comedy legend had to say about his storied career and more.
He was known for so many memorable comedies of the 1970s and 1980s, most especially his many collaborations with legendary director Mel Brooks including ‘Blazing Saddles,’ ‘Young Frankenstein and ‘The Producers.’ He teamed up with the late great Richard Pryor for a few more movies that have gone on to become classics including ‘Silver Streak,’ ‘Stir Crazy’ and ‘See No Evil Hear No Evil.’
There are no posthumous movies forthcoming, as it’s been many, many years since Gene Wilder has graced the silver screen. His last movie was ‘Another You’ of 1991. In the early Aughts he made a few appearances on the television series ‘Will & Grace.’ But his place in cinematic history was long ago secured with those aforementioned classics.
The world learned only after the fact that Gene Wilder was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In his final years he rarely made public appearances, but a notable exception was his nearly 30-minute interview on stage at the 92nd Street Y in New York City in June 2013. He spoke with Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne.
He spoke out on a range of topics, and reminisced about his collaborations with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor. He also revealed why he hadn’t made a movie in more than two decades, saying that “not too many came along.” Elaborating, he added, “I mean, they came along, but I didn’t want to do them. I didn’t want to do 3D, for instance. I didn’t want to do ones that were just bombing and swearing.”
He also weighed in on the 2005 Tim Burton movie, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ a remake of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” He said of it, “”I think it’s an insult. It’s probably Warner Bros.’ insult. Johnny Depp, I think, is a good actor, but I don’t care for that director. He’s a talented man, but I don’t care for him doing stuff like he did.”
He said of his life away from the screen, “I like writing books. I’d rather be at home with my wife. I can write, take a break, come out, have a glass of tea, give my wife [Karen Boyer] a kiss, and go back in and write some more. It’s not so bad. I am really lucky.”
And by that time, he had made his mark as an author, starting with his memoir, ‘Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art’ — which spanned his childhood and his career as well as the tragic death of his second wife, SNL alum Gilda Radner, from ovarian cancer. He went on to write two novels, ‘My French Whore’ and ‘The Woman Who Wouldn’t.’
You can see the full replay video of Gene Wilder’s final interview below.