Boy who starred in original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film never acted again after turning down deal
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The boy who played Charlie Bucket in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film never acted again after that appearance, turning down another contract in order to pursue a different life.
Peter Ostrum got the part of Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a child, before the film was released to great success in 1971.
Starring Gene Wilder, who gave an unforgettable performance as Willy Wonka – at times hilarious, at others terrifying – the film was a critical success, even if it wasn’t a hugely lucrative financial success.
It made a star out of Ostrum, who played young Charlie, a poor boy who lives in a single room house with his entire family, but has his life changed forever after finding a golden ticket to tour Wonka’s magical chocolate factory.
Based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film had a cast that also featured several other children, including Julie Dan Cole as Veruca Salt, Denise Nickerson as Violet Beauregarde, Paris Themmen as Mike Teevee, and Michael Böllner as Augustus Gloop.
Whilst the young cast went on to have massively differing careers following the film, Ostrum never acted again after the film, instead choosing to pursue a completely different career.
In 2021, Ostrum and the cast reunited for an interview commemorating the 50th anniversary of the film, and the now 65-year-old explained why he decided not to pursue the bright lights of Hollywood.
He said: “Well, I guess I did have the option of a three-picture deal, but I had no idea.
“They had no idea of what those pictures were going to be.
“And I just didn't — maybe because I'm obsessive compulsive a little bit, I didn't like giving up that freedom of signing on the dotted line, not knowing what I was going to be asked to do.
“And I ... you know, I liked working on the film.
“But I wasn't completely sold that I was to be an actor the rest of my life.
“But this is — I mean, it's still fun to be contributing to a film that people, 50 years later, are watching.
“I mean, who would have known?
“Who would have thought that that would have taken place?
“So, my point is, if you can only make one film — this was the film to make.”
In the end, Ostrum went on to become a veterinarian.
After he returned from the film, his family bought a house, which made the young Ostrum think about a career as a vet.
Before he went to college, he took some time out to see what he wanted to do, before embarking on a successful career in the field.
It’s a long way from Tinseltown, but still a great career.