After Gene Wilder saw early sketches of his costume for the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, he had some strong opinions to share with director Mel Stuart. From Letters of Note (via Dangerous Minds):
Iâve just received the costume sketches. Iâll tell you everything I think, without censoring, and you take from my opinion what you like.
I assume that the designer took his impressions from the book and didnât know, naturally, who would be playing Willy. And I think, for a character in general, theyâre lovely sketches.
I love the main thing â the velvet jacket â and I mean to show by my sketch the exact same color. But Iâve added two large pockets to take away from the svelt, feminine line. (Also in case of a few props.)
I also think the vest is both appropriate and lovely.
And I love the same white, flowing shirt and the white gloves. Also the lighter colored inner silk lining of the jacket.
What I donât like is the precise pin pointing in place and time as this costume does.
I donât think of Willy as an eccentric who holds on to his 1912 Dandyâs Sunday suit and wears it in 1970, but rather as just an eccentric â where thereâs no telling what heâll do or where he ever found his get-up â except that it strangely fits him: Part of this world, part of another. A vain man who knows colors that suit him, yet, with all the oddity, has strangely good taste. Something mysterious, yet undefined.
Iâm not a ballet master who skips along with little mincy steps. So, as you see, Iâve suggested ditching the Robert Helpmann trousers. Jodhpurs to me belong more to the dancing master. But once elegant now almost baggy trousers â baggy through preoccupation with more important things â is character.
Slime green trousers are icky. But sand colored trousers are just as unobtrusive for your camera, but tasteful.
The hat is terrific, but making it 2 inches shorter would make it more special.
Also a light blue felt hat-band to match with the same light blue fluffy bow tie shows a man who knows how to compliment his blue eyes.
To match the shoes with the jacket is fey. To match the shoes with the hat is taste.
Hope all is well. Talk to you soon.
All my best,