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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stars reunite after 44 years

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Courtesy Everett Collection

Any kid who’s seen Mel Stuart’s fantastical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has felt at least a twinge of envy toward the lucky youngsters who got to navigate its multicolored candyland.

Forty-four years after the film’s release, six cast members reunited and confirmed that, yes, making Willy Wonka was as much fun as it looked.

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“We think of ourselves as a family,” Paris Themmen, who played the young binge-watcher Mike TeeVee, told NBC’s Today show in a recent segment. “Maybe a bit of a dysfunctional family, but ….”

Themmen was joined by Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), Michael Bollner (Augustus Gloop), and Rusty Goffe (one of the Oompa Loompas).

Cole admitted that playing a spoiled brat was a blast. “It’s fun to be bad and to be encouraged to be bad,” she said. “Usually your parents are telling you, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that.’ And we had Mel Stuart, our director, saying, ‘Be meaner.'”

Alas, not everything was so sweet. Asked about the movie’s chocolate river, a disappointed Bollner replied, “I’m sorry, it was water.” Goffe added, “It was disgusting!”

Watch the Today interview above.