The MF Interviews Gene Wilder (1984)

October 20, 2009

The Murky Fringe: I think everyone wants to know about Willy Wonka and the fall/somersault you do when the kids come to the chocolate factory. Was that you?

Gene Wilder: Yes. There we no stuntmen on the set-except for the midget stuntmen tumbling for the Oompa Loompas. But that fall into the summersault was me. Totally improvised. If you remember, I walked into it with a limp-now that was real because I’d fallen off a horse earlier in the week.

The Murky Fringe: Did you have the horse put down?

Gene Wilder: Not this one, but I’ve euthanized plenty of horses.

The Murky Fringe: In that scene at the end of Willie Wonka, where you and Charlie and Grandpa Joe are flying around in the glass elevator overlooking the town, it looks as though you’ve whispered something into Charlie’s ear. Was that Willie speaking to Charlie or Gene talking to Peter Ostrum [the actor who played Charlie Buckets]?

Gene Wilder: I’ll do you one better. I’ll tell you what I said. Never put a glass eye in your mouth.

The Murky Fringe: Were you alluding to Sammy Davis Jr.?

Gene Wilder: No. There are thousands of people out there with glass eyes-and some of them want nothing more to have you put it in your mouth.

The Murky Fringe: And that’s a bad idea?

Gene Wilder: It’s just poor judgment on a number of counts. Sammy’s a good friend.

The Murky Fringe: Are you this generation’s Jack the Ripper?

Gene Wilder: Well, which one? There were two Jack the Rippers. Scotland Yard won’t admit this, of course. But to answer your question, yes. Perhaps I am.

The Murky Fringe: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Gene Wilder: Here’s two things: I was born in Milwaukee, and I can’t pass gas around men.

The Murky Fringe: You can’t or you won’t?

Gene Wilder: It’s a condition called septoflorocoitus. Gas moves normally through my digestive system, but when there are other males around I cannot release it.

The Murky Fringe: So what do you do? Hold it?

Gene Wilder: I hold it or go to another room. I excuse myself. My friends are used to it by now.

The Murky Fringe: What’s wrong with Africa?

Gene Wilder: Well, first it’s important to clarify that Africa is a single body only in that it’s a continent. To generalize the people there as a trans-continental culture is really an egregious error, one our European forefathers have made for generations. After all, the Apache of the American Southwest have very little in common with the fishermen of Nova Scotia.

The Murky Fringe: Let me rephrase the question: What is Africa’s problem?

Gene Wilder: My wife is from Zimbabwe, so I’ve got to be careful how I answer this one…on second thought, I’ll pass.

The Murky Fringe: Let’s play a game. I’ll say a word or phrase and you say the first thing that comes to mind.

Gene Wilder: Okay…

The Murky Fringe: Salt

Gene Wilder: Pepper

The Murky Fringe: Jupiter

Gene Wilder: Mars

The Murky Fringe: Gene Simmons

Gene Wilder: Gene Wilder

The Murky Fringe: Tibet

Gene Wilder: The enemy

The Murky Fringe: sperm whales

Gene Wilder: krill

The Murky Fringe: Africa

Gene Wilder: One People

The Murky Fringe: And finally-this isn’t part of the game-what is it about you that people misunderstand the most?

Gene Wilder: That I do it all for me. That this [points to himself] is all about me.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 xxjaybird October 24, 2009 at 12:44 am

I definitely laughed out loud! Great stuff.

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