On Aug. 29, 2016, legendary actor Gene Wilder died at 83, as reported by the Associated Press. In a statement reported by Variety, his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman confirmed that Wilder died from "complications from Alzheimer’s disease." To many, Wilder was best known for his portrayal of the eccentric chocolatier in the 1971 classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but he had a prolific career in Hollywood, starring in other classic films like The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and more. He was a fascinating actor and icon with a unique outlook on life, so for those wishing to keep his memory alive, there are many quotes to remember Gene Wilder by, from the hilarious to the introspective.
Wilder was known for playing somewhat neurotic yet lovable characters, who had many dimensions to them, much like the actor himself. While being a comic actor, Wilder was still often heralded for his acting prowess, which earned him two Oscar nominations throughout his career, one for The Producers and one for co-writing Young Frankenstein with fellow comedian Mel Brooks. Wilder has made a career of laughter, but he is also an actor that is leaving behind a legacy that Hollywood will take very seriously, and here some quotes that show why he was so beloved.
1. "Time is a precious thing. Never waste it."
These words from Willy Wonka surely can inspire everyone every single day.
2. “I love the art of acting, and I love film, because you always have another chance if you want it. You know, if we - if this isn't going well, you can't say — well, you could say — let's stop. Let's start over again, Gene, because you were too nervous.”
Wilder explained to Larry King why he loved acting and it gave a very honest insight into his personality, which was both endearing and neurotic.
3. "On stage or in the movies I could do whatever I wanted to. I was free."
In a 2007 conversation with PBS, Wilder opened up his beginnings in the business and how he gained confidence in his comedic and acting skills when he was younger.
4. “If the physical thing you're doing is funny, you don't have to act funny while doing it... Just be real and it will be funnier.”
Wilder opened the importance of authenticity in his autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.
5. "I'm funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while."
In a 2002 interview on Larry King Live, Wilder was completely humble about his own abilities as an actor and comedian.
6. "You're fooled by the applause into thinking that they love me, they really, really love me. Actors fall into this trap if they missed being loved for who they really were and not for what they could do."
In a 2015 interview with Newsweek , the actor dropped this gem, once again showing how self-aware he was about the industry as a whole.
7. "I used to be a milksop, beat around the bush, not speak frankly. Now everyone says, 'Don't ask Gene, because he'll tell you.'"
I think we should all live our lives the way that Wilder says he lives his in Newsweek, don't you?
8. "I thought the script was very good, but something was missing. I wanted to come out with a cane, come down slowly, have it stick into one of the bricks, get up, fall over, roll around, and they all laugh and applaud. The director asked, ‘what do you want to do that for?’ I said from that time on, no one will know if I’m lying or telling the truth."
If you've ever wondered at the inspiration behind Wilder's iconic portrayal of Willy Wonka, well, now you know that and much, much more from his 28-minute panel with Robert Osborne in 2016.
9. "Well, it is a nice day. You should see my wife. You'd think it's even nicer."
During an interview with Neal Conan for NPR in 2010, Wilder discussed how nice his writing day was and made sure to let us know that he and his then-wife Karen Boyer were #relationshipgoals.
10. "There's so many Hollywood people, and I'm not one of them. I'm not from Hollywood, and I'm also not one of the people who wants to do a tell-all, and I hate tell-alls. I didn't want to tell all."
Wilder opened up on how to maintain your privacy even when writing a book about your life, and absolutely hits the nail on the head with NPR.
11. "That's all I wanted: for someone to look at me and listen to me, but in some beautiful and artistic way."
In the same Newsweek interview, Wilder talks about what inspired him to get into the entertainment business, and it's downright beautiful.
These quotes are all funny, inspirational, intelligent, or enlightening — just like the actor and comedian himself was. He will be deeply missed.