So why would anyone claim that Willy Wonka is the best character in any movie ever? Gene Wilder, that’s why. A lot of younger folks these days don’t really know who Gene Wilder was and what all he did for the movies. His style of comedy and acting was very different from a lot of people that have graced Hollywood with their presence since his time, and yet it still stands as a testament to what a real actor should have aspired to back in the day. The reason why Willy Wonka was so special however is that Wilder did what he always did, he followed a set course until it was time to fly off the rails and surprise the heck out of everyone, only to right himself again and then do it all over again. Willy Wonka was the kind of character that a person could go just a little nutty with since he wasn’t entirely normal but he was still a few steps away from being completely loony.
Gene Wilder had a strange way of being able to unnerve people with a look or an expression that spoke volumes. He didn’t even have to open his mouth to get his point across. His eyes, his face, and his bodily expressions said more than his words could sometimes, which is why Wonka was such a masterful character. Willy Wonka was just loony enough that he was a bit unnerving but he was also endearing to the point that people couldn’t help but feel drawn to him. His freakouts were a bit over the top but once again it added to the character in a way that drew people back in even if they wondered why.
And he was fun. That was a large part of it to be honest, he was just a fun and carefree character. He didn’t stress much, he didn’t fret, at least not until the tour was over, and he didn’t get too judgmental throughout the movie until Charlie’s final test. This was the kind of guy you initially wondered about when you first saw him, but quickly figured out that you really had to watch in order to fully understand what was going on with him. Gene Wilder made the character the kind of figure that no one could really anticipate, even his fellow actors.
Amazingly Wilder did say before his passing just last year that he did enjoy Johnny Depp’s character in the ill-fated remake of his movie, which was surprising. He didn’t often give high praise for anyone that had the gall to remake one of his movies, as he considered this a tremendous insult. But it could have been the fact that Depp, like Wilder, kept things amusing by keeping them as fluid and as unpredictable as possible. The only difference was that Depp didn’t go off script when he wanted.
Opinions do vary on who did Willy Wonka the best, but there’s no doubt about who made the role an important part of pop culture. Gene Wilder was responsible for making Willy Wonka one of the best characters ever.