‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’: None of the Actors Were Informed About the Tunnel Scene

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 movie adaptation of the popular book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It takes fans into the wondrous world of Willy Wonka (played by Gene Wilder) and his candy-making factory where anything is possible.

The characters in the film are amazed at what goes on in the factory, and it seems some of that amazement was not faked by the actors. In fact, they were not told about the full extent of some scenes in the movie, including the famous tunnel scene.

'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' scene with child actors in a boat in the chocolate river, in black and white
‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ | Arthur Sidey/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

The tunnel scene was a big moment during the movie

The tunnel scene takes place shortly after the five kids arrive at Willy Wonka’s factory. They are taken into the Chocolate Room, which is one of the most magnificent rooms in the place. Here, everything is candy, including the big chocolate river.

In this scene, Augustus Gloop shows off his gluttonous ways and falls into the river. He, then, gets sucked up a pipe, being the first kid to leave the tour group.

Afterward, Wonka takes the rest of the guests onto a boat on the river. They go into a dark tunnel, where Wonka recites a poem as creepy images flash around them. Some of the guests express their discomfort and tell Wonka they would like to leave. However, he ignores them, and eventually, the tunnel leads them to their next destination.

The actors were not warned about the scene

According to Buzzfeed, director Mel Stuart kept some information about the movie hidden from the actors in order to capture their genuine reactions. For example, he did not let them see the chocolate river before filming, and he also did not tell them about the tunnel scene.

During a Reddit AMA session, Paris Themmen (who played Mike Teevee) shared,

“Like our initial entrance to the Chocolate Room, the director did not warn us what was coming in this scene. Mike Teevee enjoys pretty much the entire factory tour. The boat is the one place where he exhibits fear and discomfort. Gene is so great in this scene, and it didn’t take much acting on our part to play ‘What the f*** is wrong with this guy?’”

Meanwhile, Denise Nickerson once said that Wilder’s acting during the scene made her think he was a “nutjob.”

Gene Wilder also kept some things from his fellow actors

Stuart was not the only person who hid some things from the actors. Gene Wilder did as well.

In one of the last scenes of the movie, Wonka is seen yelling at Charlie and Grandpa Joe in his office. Peter Ostrum (Charlie) revealed that Wilder did not inform them he would be raising his voice at them. Buzzfeed shared that, according to the DVD featurette, Wilder spoke in a calmer tone during rehearsals and went all out during filming. He claimed that he did want to warn Ostrum about it, however.

Nonetheless, Ostrum had positive things to say about Wilder. He told Express that he “had a good relationship” with Wilder, which “came through on the camera.”

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