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Charmskool

New Member
Back in 2013 I posted a thread of my Léon: The Professional costume and a couple years later after Halloween I meant to post this to show you all my follow up. I didn't mean for it to take so long but I eventually forgot... until now. Better late than never!

I always loved the original Gene Wilder Wonka and created a pretty darned good costume all the way back in 2000 which I wore for many a Halloween. As the years went on, I decided to hang up that costume and do some new ideas but always had it in the back of my mind to redo it "the right way".

After Léon for 2 seasons in a row, I knew it was time to revisit Wonka and fulfill my dream of making the most perfect replica of the original classic.

To begin, I already had a great top hat that was custom made for my first ensemble but had to create a new frock coat and vest. Back in 2003 I was lucky to attend a private viewing of the personal collection from Wonka producer David L. Wolper and got great reference photos. An internet search unveiled excellent recent images of the costume on display at a Comic-Con.

Now I have been lucky to work in a great place (Stan Winston Studio/Legacy Effects) with a TON of very creative artists and technicians and I was able to utilize one of my workmate's fabrication talents on my new coat and vest. Using my reference shots she patterned the coat to fit my build, which is somewhat more bulky or muscular than Wilder's was, so I have a slightly more broad shouldered look than he did, but there is nothing I can do about that! Since the film was shot in 1970 and released in 1971, the vest was a bit tougher a challenge because the original material it was made from was an embroidered textile from the late 1960's. I looked in every fabric store I could find in town but there was nothing even close so I decided to get resourceful and creative. I turned to my reference photos of the real vest and used as much as possible to Photoshop a repeating pattern and make a clean full image I could then take to a fabric printer and have it directly transferred to a large swatch. My workmate could then pattern and cut it to make my vest. A short search was all it took to find gold rose buttons that closely matched the original's. The last little touch I added to the vest was a cheat to mimic the embroidered look of the gold thread that separated the flower rows by hand painting on top of the printed gold areas with a gold metallic ink pen. Tedious, but a simple solution. Then I bought new slacks and boots to match and found a nice cane as a prop. Lastly, I got a top quality wig to complete my look.

Next step... the props. Nowadays there are many photos and references of the golden ticket and candy bar wrappers but back in 2003 I got awesome close up photos of the real ticket and was able to reproduce the graphics perfectly in Illustrator. Same with the Wonka Bar and Scrumdiddlyumptious Bar. So those were taken care of but I wanted it all so next I hand sculpted an Everlasting Gobstopper, molded it, cast up a bunch in plastic and then hand painted them as well. The last hurdle was to reproduce the Inventing Room Key. If you are a true fan of the movie you will remember that it was cleverly engineered as a double key where the bits at the end of the long shanks turned simultaneously in the same direction when Gene cranked the single bow on the back. To create this, I turned to the computer where I modeled the entire key to be as close to the same size as the film version, and engineered the cogs to turn the dual shanks at exactly the same rate. Then I 3D printed the parts, sanded them, painted them and glued the elements in place. It was tricky but it turned out pretty cool.

Sadly, Gene Wilder passed away the following year (I regret I never got to meet him) and I broke out the costume to attend a tribute screening of Willy Wonka for Gene here in Los Angeles where they encouraged attendees to dress up. The production decorated the theater with Chocolate Factory props hired little people actors to be Oompa-Loomas and of course a man to be Wonka. Sadly for him, I was there to put his get-up to shame. :cool: Photos are below.

I hope you like my costume and description of its creation. Have a Scrumdiddlyumptious day!
 

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Charmskool

New Member
Thanks... The vid is totally fun! Who doesn't love that stuff? I have photos of the hat that I saw in 2003 at the Wolper exhibit and it looks like the same one. Doubtful it came from Julie Dawn Cole directly, but who am I to know? Plus, there were likely multiple hats and maybe coats for the shoot.
 

Dr Jones Sr

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That's all amazing! The vest looks so good, it's hard to believe it's printed.

Who is the guy in the top hat in the photo with you? I know that face but I can't place it.

I remember reading an article containing an interview with Johnny Depp that came out prior to that film beginning shooting. He said (and I'm paraphrasing from my best recollection) that as he read through the script he was forming an idea of how he was going to approach the character. Then he watched the Wilder film, and was left stunned and dismayed. Depp said that Wilder's performance was exactly what Depp had in mind, forcing Depp to go in another direction or else be seen as doing a mere impersonation of Wilder's note-perfect performance. Depp said it was the first time in his career that he was about to begin shooting and had no idea where to go with a character. I can't imagine a better tribute to Wilder's genius!
 

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Charmskool

New Member
That's all amazing! The vest looks so good, it's hard to believe it's printed.

Who is the guy in the top hat in the photo with you? I know that face but I can't place it.

I remember reading an article containing an interview with Johnny Depp that came out prior to that film beginning shooting. He said (and I'm paraphrasing from my best recollection) that as he read through the script he was forming an idea of how he was going to approach the character. Then he watched the Wilder film, and was left stunned and dismayed. Depp said that Wilder's performance was exactly what Depp had in mind, forcing Depp to go in another direction or else be seen as doing a mere impersonation of Wilder's note-perfect performance. Depp said it was the first time in his career that he was about to begin shooting and had no idea where to go with a character. I can't imagine a better tribute to Wilder's genius!

Thanks for the compliment!
That's interesting about Depp... I never heard that. I went into that film wanting to love it but I had the opposite reaction. However, I did not come here to trash on anyone else's work. Let's just say that while Roald Dahl didn't like the film for various reasons, it became a classic to the fans and Gene Wilder cemented his legacy as the candy making mogul.

As for the guy they hired to play Wonka at the event, I don't know who is and I don't think we introduced ourselves.
 

Dr Jones Sr

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The thing I liked best about the newer film was that they retained Dahl's original songs.

BTW I had been reading loads of Dahl short stories for a couple years before I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I was surprised to discover it written in a style quite different from the style I had become accustomed to. It's not unlike Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote his historical novels in gorgeous flowery old-fashioned prose but wrote his Sherlock Holmes stories in a dry matter-of-fact newspaper-like style.

About the other fellow, I think I know him! He looks just like a professional musician in Los Angeles I've known for many years. I'll have to ask him about that "gig".
 
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