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The news is out: A Willy Wonka origin story is on the way, and reports suggest that Tom Holland and Timothy Chalamet are at the top of casting directors’ list for the film. So, whatever happened to the original child actors who appeared in the Gene Wilder-led film? Are they still acting? 

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Gene Wilder
Actors Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016) as Willy Wonka in the film ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’, 1971 | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Peter Ostrum became a veterinarian 

Peter Ostrum played the main protagonist Charlie Bucket in the original 1971 fantasy film. Yet, following his breakout role, the actor did not continue on in showbiz. He graduated from Cornell University in 1984 with a Veterinary degree. Ostrum is currently a Clinic Partner at Countryside Veterinary Clinic who reportedly works on small and large dairy farms, concentrating on dairy production medicine.

Julie Dawn Cole continued acting  

Julie Dawn Cole portrayed the demanding, misbehaved, and spoiled Veruca Salt — the one who ordered her father to acquire an Oompa Loompa (as if they were pets). She also appeared in the TV series Angels, which ran from 1975 to 1983, and she appeared in 1996’s Married for Life. Though she boasts a handful of TV and film appearances, her career never fully took off following Baruca. 

What about Denise Nickerson?

Denise Nickerson portrayed Violet Beauregarde in the original film — the one who turns into an oversized blueberry and rolls away with help from a few Oompa Loompas. Nickerson died in 2019, and her last on-screen appearance was in 1978’s Zero to Sixty. She also starred in the Magical World of Disney that same year. Nickerson reportedly chose to quit acting in the late ’70s. 

Michael Bollner became an accountant 

Michael Bollner, who played the frequently-eating Augustus Goop, did not continue on with acting following Willy Wonka. Instead, he chose to finish out his studies, attending college for accountancy. He now works as a tax accountant. 


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Paris Themmen went on to receive a BFA 

Themmen portrayed Mike Teevee in the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Teevee is the fourth and final child to be eliminated from the factory tour; he’s a bit entitled and a little angry all the time. 

Themmen quit acting at 14, but he later received his BFA from NYU. He went on to found Access International — a travel service that arranged European-bound flights for backpackers, as he was quite the explorer. His career is a bit diverse, defined by some acting stints, a shot at real estate, some film production work, and even business representation for Walt Disney Imagineering.