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Writer Adam Resnick discusses the struggle of writing for TV and movies, and the book that was born from that process.
*Photo by Joyce Culver for 92Y
By his own admission, Gene Wilder has not made a ton of movies over his career, and certainly not in the past 2 decades, but when he did make them they were very good movies. Wilder is known for particular roles depending on the age of the audience. The older generation knows him for his work in The Producers, whereas folks my age will always know him as Willy Wonka. As Mr. Wilder took the stage at the 92Y on Tuesday for a rare public appearance to promote his book ‘Something to Remember You By: A Perilous Romance,’ you could tell that he was battling the discomfort of a public appearance with the joy of taking in an appreciative audience.
The evening , moderated by film historian and host of ‘Turner Classic Movies’ Robert Osborne, was a relaxed if not challenging walk down memory lane. Wilder is 80 now, and it would seem that people still associate him with the younger and more vibrant characters that he played on screen. This event, being held on the heels of an Evening with Mel Brooks, was certainly a juxtaposition of the older and yet more energetic Brooks with the solemn and quieter Wilder. Both discussed the same projects but in far different levels of detail.
If there was any one element to take away from Wilder’s appearance, it’s that he got disillusioned by the Hollywood process and what he perceived as low quality films that rely too much on swearing and violence to attract an audience. When asked if he wanted to work in Hollywood again he simply said ‘yuck!’ He also made it known that despite enjoying Johnny Depp as an actor, he was insulted that a studio would remake his classic film about a chocolate factory.
Wilder is a very quiet presence. He was thoughtful in his answers, although you the feeling the audience was looking for more juicy details from his film experience. Wilder did not oblige. If you’re looking for a story about his relationship working Richard Pryor, the most you will get is that when he was ‘on’ he was the best and when he was drugged up he was horrible. Wilder said he didn’t consider himself ‘funny’ but that he knew how to be ‘funny’ when it was required. Wilder comes across as a gentle soul who is much happier to be at home with his family writing than taking part in any new Hollywood project that might come his way.
His book is available through Amazon.com via this link