"Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," the classic film based on Roald Dahl's popular children's novel, came out nearly 50 years ago, and now, some of the actors who played its beloved characters have resurfaced—to try out a new choco-treat.
Cereal brand Three Wishes tracked down some of the key players of the original 1971 film–Peter Ostrum, who played main character Charlie Bucket, Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) and Paris Themmen (Mike Teavee)–to taste-test its new flavor: cocoa.
In the minute-long spot for social media, the stars reprise some of their famous lines in new scenes juxtaposed against those of the classic movie. “I want a chocolatey breakfast cereal now,” says Cole. “I hope there’s another golden ticket in here,” says Ostrum.
The cereal brand was founded by married advertising duo Ian and Margart Wishingrad. Ian is the founder and creative director of New York-based creative agency Bigeyedwish, while Margaret serves as chief of staff. The pair wanted a cereal that would be a healthy alternative for their family. It's gluten-free, made out of chickpeas, pea protein and tapioca and offers eight grams of protein, and only three grams of sugar. It’s available online, on Amazon and in select retailers.
As it turns out, it was a bit of a quest to recruit the stars for the spot. Ian Wishingrad says that Cole, who played Veruca Salt, is still in the public eye, so he was able to reach her through her agent.
He tried to invite Michael Boellner (Augustus Gloop), who lives in Germany and runs an accounting firm, with the help of a friend who speaks German. But ultimately, Boellner didn't find the idea cute, he says. "I tried to make one more plea via email, but he wrote back in response and said, 'Dear Ian, Sorry, No.'"
Wishingrad did find success, however, with Themmen, who played Mike Teavee, who is now based in L.A. After a few emails, he finally picked up the phone "when I called his house," Wishingrad says. "The phone call turned to Facetime and within five minutes, we were quickly best friends, and I was watching him feed squirrels in his backyard."
It was actually only through Themmen that Wishingrad was finally able to connect with Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket. He's now a farm veterinarian who lives in upstate New York, close to the Canadian border. Wishingrad had reached out multiple times and even went so far as to bug the receptionists at his office—to no avail. But finally, Themmen "slipped me the secret to getting his attention and his personal email. I can’t say what that was exactly, but I will tell you he’s still got an AOL email address."
Ironically, if Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka) were still alive, he arguably would have been the easiest to pester—Wishingrad grew up a few streets from where Gene Wilder lived in Connecticut.