Gene Wilder - Willy Wonka Child Star Swapped Acting For Animals

The child star who appeared alongside Gene Wilder in cult classic Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory bowed out of the spotlight in order to find a "more steady" career - and ended up becoming a veterinarian.

Peter Ostrum was cast as young Charlie Bucket in the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic book, but the lead part ended up being his only movie role.

Ostrum admits that after the five-month shoot in Germany with Wilder, who played wacky confectionery creator Wonka, his life reverted back to normal - and he was more than happy to turn his back on Hollywood.

Now 55, the married dad-of-two tells Britain's Sunday Mirror, "Back then when the film came out there was no red carpet premiere. I was in my hometown in Ohio and they had an opening there and I was the only one there. There was a little bit of fanfare but not much and the film died a quiet death. It had lukewarm reviews and people forgot about it. It wasn't until video (cassettes became popular) 10 years later that it resurfaced and it took on a life of its own...

"I enjoyed ­doing it but I couldn't ­really see myself doing it for the rest of my life. How many kids carry a successful child acting career into an adult acting career? The Jodie Fosters and Ron Howards you can count on one hand.

"Acting was fine, but I ­wanted something more steady. The key is to find something you love doing, and that's what I got."


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