When director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teamed up in 2005 to make a new version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka was not pleased. Gene Wilder, who’d famously portrayed the reclusive candyman in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory condemned the idea of revisiting the classic, and accused the filmmakers of doing it for the money. “It’s just some people sitting around thinking, ‘How can we make some more money?’ Why else would you remake Willy Wonka? I don’t see the point of going back and doing it all over again,” Wilder said at the time. “I like Johnny Depp and I appreciate that he has said on the record that my shoes would be hard to fill. But I don’t know how it will all turn out. Right now, the only thing that does take some of the edge off this for me is that Willy Wonka’s name isn’t in the title.”
Well, the movie came out, and audiences ate it up like candy, to the sweet tune of $475 million worldwide, but Wilder still hasn’t cooled off. Last night, at a book event at New York’s 92nd Street Y, he called the remake an “insult,” and went out of his way to lay the blame at Burton’s feet. “It’s probably Warner Brothers’ insult, I think. I like Warner Bros for other reasons, but to do that with Johnny Depp, who I think is a good actor and I like him,” Wilder said. “But I don’t care for that director and he’s a talented man, but I don’t care for him for doing stuff like he did.”
Burton’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wilder, 80, was speaking with Robert Osborne at the 92Y to promote his new novel, Something to Remember You By.