RIP: Gene Wilder

A full, productive life.

One of the last filmed interviews given by Gene Wilder was with Robert Osborne June 12, 2013 at New York’s 92nd Street Y. The conversation took place the day after the actor’s 80th birthday. The actor passed away Sunday in Stamford, Conn. from complications due to Alzheimer’s.

Wilder started off with Osborne by decrying the “swearing” that gradually took over the art of Hollywood film comedy. He then segued to memories of making films like Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as well as of co-stars like Richard Pryor:

“The first one [Silver Streak] was very good, we got along really swell. But when we did the one in jail [Stir Crazy], he’d come in 15 minutes late, 30 minutes late, 45 minutes late, an hour late. [Director] Sidney [Poitier] was going nuts… I was trying to make him [Richard] feel happy that we all like him, love him. But it wasn’t easy when he was on something.”

“Then we did another film [See No Evil, Hear No Evil], and he was beautiful, fine. Not on anything… When he was good, he was wonderful. When he was bad, he was awful. But not in his acting. But throwing things away, throwing the time away, the hours away. Keeping everyone waiting and all that sort of thing.”

Wilder tells a funny separate story about Pryor during the making of Blazing Saddles. Pryor was a writer on the film and originally supposed to play the role of the sheriff. RIP.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
The Delightful M.O. of Octogenarian Gene Wilder