Gene Wilder Remembered: What Hollywood Is Saying About the Legendary Actor
"Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship," Mel Brooks tweeted of the star's death.
Fans and celebs alike are mourning the death of prolific performer Gene Wilder.
Wilder, who is best known for his work in films such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, also earned a best supporting actor nomination for his role in 1967's The Producers. The star, beloved by many for decades of work in film, died Sunday at his home in Stamford, Conn., due to complications from Alzheimer's disease, his family announced Monday.
Rain Pryor, daughter to Richard Pryor, recalled to The Hollywood Reporter how hard it was to imagine one without the other when it came to the two comic legends she grew up watching on movie sets. "To watch the two of them together," she said, "there's not a magic that's been like that in a long time."
Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, spoke at length to THR about what it was like to film the classic with Wilder: "Gene was very much in the role. It wasn’t that you couldn’t approach him — he was very approachable. But he was serious about what he did and wanted to get it right." During long breaks Wilder would break character to entertain the young cast, said Ostrum, who remembers being surprised by Wilder's somersault grand entrance into the Wonka Factory.
Debra Messing, who worked with Wilder on two episodes of her starring sitcom Will & Grace, told THR: "My memories of Gene are that of pure Light. He brought it with him wherever he went. His eyes — so childlike, joyous, warm, mischievous — were like no one's I've ever encountered. I grew up with Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles. He was my Happy Hero, and by some miracle he became a part of our family. There will never be anyone like him ever again. I miss him already."
After hearing the news, Wilder's Young Frankenstein costar Cloris Leachman told THR: "Oh, Gene, it's too soon! It's too soon."
Carol Kane, who costarred with Wilder in The World's Greatest Lover, told THR: "We're all so lucky to have known him in whatever way that we did." And Kelly Le Brock, who Wilder cast in her first film role in 1984's Woman in Red, recalled to THR how she reconnected with her costar during a bump-in on a 2012 flight to Bermuda.
Here is what other famous faces in Hollywood are saying about his death and his legacy:
Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) August 29, 2016
Goodbye, Gene Wilder. You were one of the great screen comedians. Original and surprising every time.— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) August 29, 2016
The brilliantly hilarious Gene Wilder. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/AnJrLOILQ2— bob saget (@bobsaget) August 29, 2016
Hilarious & heartbreaking in the very same moment. #RIP beautiful Gene Wilder there was & will never be anyone like you— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder was a giant of comedy. His legacy of films is inspiring. A true genius..— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) August 29, 2016
Willy Wonka was a great movie but blazing saddles is the best thing he ever did. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/XfOwrObQK1— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) August 29, 2016
This is how I found out. Big death. Heavy moment. pic.twitter.com/oDmPsQ9pRA— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder pic.twitter.com/TuMQheQCa4— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) August 29, 2016
"Good Day Sir!"— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder
Rest in Peace, Gene Wilder...— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder as one of my earliest heroes. Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, are CLINICS on comic acting. Sad to hear of his passing.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) August 29, 2016
I just read my Willy Wonka passed away. #RIPower Gene Wilder— Freddie Prinze Jr (@RealFPJr) August 29, 2016
Young Frankenstein, Silver Streak, Willy Wonka, Blazing Saddles, Stir Crazy: Gene Wilder, you were my youth! RIP pic.twitter.com/zK0v4d70gh— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) August 29, 2016
so sad to learn of the passing of my good friend, gene wilder... such an incredible man... i'll miss you— Harry Connick Jr (@HarryConnickJR) August 29, 2016
The genius, the talent, the actor, the original, the artist, the storyteller, the creative, the iconic, the great, great, great Gene Wilder.
— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) August 29, 2016
When Gene Wilder walked into the meeting with that incredible perm in THE WOMAN IN RED, and he didn't even reference it. #RIP— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) August 29, 2016
RIP #GeneWider . We lost one of the greats today. How deeply you will be missed.— Tony Goldwyn (@tonygoldwyn) August 29, 2016
R.I.P Gene Wilder. As funny as they come.— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder. A wonderfully funny man. pic.twitter.com/BeU4dk3ZhC— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 29, 2016
A moment of silence for the master of the comedic pause.— edgarwright (@edgarwright) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder: funny doing something & funny doing nothing. pic.twitter.com/d5iySZVll6
gene wilder i love you with all my heart— Flea (@flea333) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder acted at a different frequency than any other. He was always a moment away from tenderness or hysteria. What an original.— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) August 29, 2016
Pure magic, always.— Billy West (@TheBillyWest) August 29, 2016
Thank you, Gene Wilder.
RIP to the legendary Gene Wilder. 2016 has been painful so far. pic.twitter.com/7nbqY7Unva— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder. Only happy memories of making Sunday Lovers together.— Sir Roger Moore (@sirrogermoore) August 29, 2016
Man do I have wonderful memories of Gene Wilder? He's one of my all time favorites & a reason I know how to make people laugh. Rest In Peace— Omar Benson Miller (@OmarMiller) August 29, 2016
The world is way worse without the pure imagination of the great Gene Wilder in it.— The Sklar Brothers (@SklarBrothers) August 29, 2016
He was always able to make us smile, and that is no small feat. Rest with the stars, Gene Wilder. pic.twitter.com/kxis66bIGd— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder marathon starting now at my pad, Come over✨— alabama whitman (@maebirdwing) August 29, 2016
Thanks Mr. Wilder, we'll miss you every step up of the way. pic.twitter.com/ZGCxV4soLx
RIP to a true original and one of the all time greats Gene Wilder. I loved him. https://t.co/RdupcfKk7V— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 29, 2016
There's a big hole in Comedy's heart with the loss of Gene Wilder today. RIP Willy Wonka.— Larry Wilmore (@larrywilmore) August 29, 2016
Rip to a great and truly original artist https://t.co/rZrAJdx8TR— John Cusack (@johncusack) August 29, 2016
The all-time greatest. They broke the mold after him. pic.twitter.com/j4VzpxvNvE— Thomas Lennon (@thomaslennon) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder. What a kind, talented and generous man you were! My wife worked w/Gene on Something Wilder 1994. pic.twitter.com/zn3VSH9Sbs— robertliefeld (@robertliefeld) August 29, 2016
Thank you Gene Wilder for the wonderful, the weird, the pure imagination. One of my greatest heroes.— josh groban (@joshgroban) August 29, 2016
RIP baby xx Jerome Silberman (7/11/1933 – 8/29/2016) known professionally as Gene Wilder, icon and sweetheart! pic.twitter.com/Ru7KPyLXhs— loripetty (@loripetty) August 29, 2016
R.I.P to the incomparable Gene Wilder. You filled so many childhoods, mine included, with wonder, laughter & joy. Thank you.— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) August 29, 2016
First Gene Wilder encounter for me: Luv, on Broadway. Who is THIS guy? Soon we all knew. One of the best. RIP.— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) August 29, 2016
There was a time in the 70s where you knew a film was a comic masterpiece because it starred Gene Wilder.— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) August 29, 2016
So sad to hear Gene Wilder has passed away....what an amazing https://t.co/BN0DL4vmBs— Nicole Appleton (@Nicole_Appleton) August 29, 2016
I just bought a vintage Blazing Saddles poster. 3 days ago. Gene Wilder made my dance - you bad, and now may you rest in peace.— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) August 29, 2016
One of my biggest inspirations Gene Wilder has passed away RIP. I’m saddened but he lives on in every way imaginable!!— reggie watts (@reggiewatts) August 29, 2016
Absolutely terrible news about Gene Wilder, such an amazing entertainer and a true loss to the world. He will not be forgotten.— Millie Bobby Brown (@milliebbrown) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder.An inspiration.His performances had guts,originality&perfect timing.Original characters all with soul. pic.twitter.com/CLCo9kuWIe— Vincent D'Onofrio (@vincentdonofrio) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder dead. Thanks for so much laughter Dr. Frankenstein.— Carol Costello (@CarolCNN) August 29, 2016
I loved him so much. Just looking at Gene Wilder always made my heart smile. Rest in peace.— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) August 29, 2016
So sad to hear about Gene Wilder. One of my Heroes. Comedic wizard! RIP pic.twitter.com/IDZsC6V7Hs— Leigh Francis (@LeighFrancis) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder is and always will be a reason I love movies and comedy. #RIP— Doug Benson (@DougBenson) August 29, 2016
I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends . George St. Cows outside.— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder you were a genius. Rest in Peace.
Dear Gene Wilder,— Paula Poundstone (@paulapoundstone) August 29, 2016
I wish I had written to you sooner. You made me laugh. I will miss you.
it's nice to think of Gene Wilder now back with his beloved Gilda Radner and his fellow genius Richard Pryor. RIP— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 29, 2016
RIP to The Waco Kid. Gene Wilder has died at 83. pic.twitter.com/KoiAcjGH3B— Brad Thor (@BradThor) August 29, 2016
If you haven't, watch Young Frankenstein. Start there. So many, many others. Too many to name right now. RIP Gene Wilder— Adam Horowitz (@AdamHorowitzLA) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder was one of the true greats. I think about his performance in this all the time, with joy. https://t.co/FmaS44yaGG— David Wain (@davidwain) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder. Bless you for all these years of laughter and love, such warmth and humanity. Thank you, thank you, thank you #GeneWilder— Leonard Maltin (@leonardmaltin) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder was one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven he has a Golden Ticket. ;^)— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 29, 2016
such a huge part of my childhood and one of the reasons I wanted to grow up and entertain. RIP Gene Wilder pic.twitter.com/1XTWZAwR7R— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) August 29, 2016
GENE WILDER, the face of childhood joy for many a generation, has passed. Farewell, sweet genius. Gilda awaits you. https://t.co/pybXNFlGaq— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) August 29, 2016
A man who lit up the world with his joy and genius. I can't say what it meant to act with him and get to know his heart. RIP #GeneWilder— Debra Messing (@DebraMessing) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder blessed our stage with some of the best movies ever made. May you continue to live forever as a legend in our hearts, RIP wonka— Tyler Rich (@TylerRichMusic) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder was the best.— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 29, 2016
GENE WILDER I LOVE YOU FOREVER— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) August 29, 2016
"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams." - Willy Wonka— Dane Cook (@DaneCook) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder your performances filled my childhood with joy.
Oh boy, Gene Wilder. The vulnerability in his eyes & the rage in his perfect voice. Incredible comic actor x— Robert Webb (@arobertwebb) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein might be my favorite...— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 29, 2016
Oh, no. Gene Wilder. Seriously one of the funniest humans ever. Sad. RIP— marc maron (@marcmaron) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder's talent was too great to be contained by the term "actor". Instead he should be thought of as a "genre". #RIPGeneWilder— Dave Foley (@DaveSFoley) August 29, 2016
Lost one of the world's greatest entertainers today... You will be missed Gene Wilder.— John Legere (@JohnLegere) August 29, 2016
Gene Wilder was a giant of comedy. His legacy of films is inspiring. A true genius..— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) August 29, 2016
If you have not read this remarkable letter from Gene Wilder re: his Wonka costume, peer now into a remarkable mind: https://t.co/uocoB3GuRH— John Hodgman (@hodgman) August 29, 2016
RIP dear, wonderful Gene Wilder. What an influence you were in my life. Thank you for all that joy. https://t.co/vzheeZCGLz— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) August 29, 2016
Damn....— Theodus Crane (@theoduscrane) August 29, 2016
Good bye Gene Wilder, say hi to Richard for me...
RIP Gene Wilder.— Miles Teller (@Miles_Teller) August 29, 2016
R.I.P Gene Wilder. We grew up watching you all the time and you made us laugh more times than we can count…u left the world a better place.— OneRepublic (@OneRepublic) August 29, 2016
After seeing all wonderful things being said about Gene Wilder today, I can only say that I concur. He brought tons of laughter to me also.— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) August 29, 2016
“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.“ farewell Gene Wilder, you were a treasure— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) August 29, 2016
RIP Gene Wilder thanks for making my imagination grow twice the size.— Addison Timlin (@Addijay) August 29, 2016
Just watched Blazing Saddles. Farewell Gene Wilder. "Nowhere special? I always wanted to go there"— Adam Hills (@adamhillscomedy) August 29, 2016