Steven Spielberg Reportedly Wants to Get Gene Wilder Out of Retirement for an Upcoming Film
In 2008, Gene Wilder basically announced his retirement — at that point, he hadn’t acted since a 2003 guest appearance on Will and Grace, and his last film role was in NBC’s Alice in Wonderland TV movie back in 1999. Since then, Wilder has written some books, but has mostly stayed out of the spotlight. That may change if Steven Spielberg has his way, as the director is reportedly seeking to get Wilder out of retirement for an upcoming film project.
Ain’t It Cool News has heard a rumor (which they have confirmed with two sources) that Spielberg is pursuing Wilder for a role in one of his new films, and that meetings have already taken place or will happen shortly. But which film is it?
It’s likely that Spielberg wants Wilder to provide a voice for his live-action / CGI film The BFG, based on Roal Dahl’s classic 1982 children’s book about a young girl who befriends a giant, aka The Big Friendly Giant. This makes sense on a couple of levels: one of Wilder’s most iconic roles was Willy Wonka in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which was also based on a classic Roald Dahl story. And since it has animated characters, it may appeal more to the retired Wilder than a live-action appearance.
But AICN also speculates that Wilder could be wanted for a role in Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s nostalgia-culture novel Ready Player One. That film involves a character named James Halliday, the inventor of a virtual world known as Oasis — Halliday dies early in the story, leaving behind a treasure hunt and promising the player who finds the easter egg at the end total control over his empire. Yes, that does sound similar to Willy Wonka, and it would also make sense for Spielberg to seek Wilder for this particular role. The very brevity of the part may also appeal to Wilder as much as a voice role in The BFG would.
Either way, seeing Wilder come out of retirement would be a total joy, even if it is for just a moment.