Gene Wilder is one of the most iconic Hollywood actors still alive today, with appearances in classic films like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and most famously, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Wilder had a fantastic string of films in the 1960's and 70's, with a wide range of dramas (Bonnie and Clyde), comedies (The Producers) and kids flicks (Willy Wonka) that still endure to this day. But unlike Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and some of Wilder's contemporaries, Wilder decided to call it quits in the early 2000's, retiring at the age of 70 after a few guest stints on Will & Grace. Since then, Wilder has stuck to his retirement pretty well and until recently, there was no indication that Wilder would ever stage a comeback and return to the film world. However, some new rumors are spreading, and the hot news in Hollywood is that famed director Steven Spielberg is attempting to bring Wilder out of retirement for an upcoming project.
Spielberg hasn't made a film since 2012's Lincoln, but that is changing very soon. Bridge of Spies, his Tom Hanks Cold War vehicle, is hitting theaters on October 16 with major Oscar hopes. After that, Spielberg will return to the world of children's fantasy with The BFG, an adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl adaptation which is set to debut on July 1, 2016. With two big films in a short span, most directors would take a quick vacation and worry about making another big project later. Not Spielberg. Once The BFG is completed, Spielberg is set to make Ready Player One, the epic and ambitious adaptation of Ernest Cline's best-selling novel, for a December 2017 release date. All of this raises the question- which role is Spielberg pursuing Wilder for?
The common thought in Hollywood is that Spielberg wants Wilder to either voice The BFG in next summer's fantasy flick, or play James Halliday, the Willy Wonka-esque leader of OASIS in Ready Player One. In my opinion, I would clearly bank on the latter option. On IMDb, Mark Rylance is already listed as The BFG, and with that film in post-production, I can't imagine Wilder coming in at this point. Ready Player One, on the other hand, makes a ton of sense. From everything that I've read, Halliday is very much like Willy Wonka, and I think that it would be both a brilliant tribute to Wilder and a genius bit of casting if he was cast in that role. I'm hoping to read the novel soon, but for now, I can say that I sincerely hope that Wilder is cast in this film. It would be truly amazing. Ready Player One will hit theaters on December 15, 2017.