Watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory does a better job of identifying one’s personality than reading a horoscope. As a kid, you could tell the types of people you wanted to know (or not know) based on which child they connected with. Let’s face it, no one wanted to be the Charlie Bucket of their group, despite him being the supposedly perfect embodiment of childhood. For me, I always connected with Veruca Salt, so when I learned star Julie Dawn Cole wrote a memoir of her experiences on the film, I gobbled it up as quickly as a Wonka bar!
Veruca Salt, the representative of all the spoiled uppercrust (and the British considering she was the only Anglophile in the group), may have been snotty, but she definitely know what she wanted; “I want it now!” Her memoir, titled with her famous phrase, is equal parts autobiography and DVD commentary. The slim volume contains a ton of fun factoids, even if the entire thing feels breezily underwhelming. We learn about Cole’s upbringing, abandonment from her father and the struggles of her single mother. Later on she recounts her interest in acting leading up to auditioning for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Knowing that most readers have picked this up to hear about being Veruca Salt, Cole doesn’t disappoint in devoting much of the book to the 1971 film that made her a star. She recounts her teenage crush on Peter Ostrum who played Charlie Bucket (and her friendly rivalry for his affections with Denise Nickerson who played Violet Beauregarde), her relationship with her on-set father played by Roy Kinnear; her memories of Kinnear are particularly sweet as Cole claims he was a father figure to her. There isn’t anything particularly shocking about her type on-set, her memories are more appropriate to a DVD commentary but remain fun anecdotes from a young woman who could have only dreamed that the film she was making would become an enduring family classic.
After that the book looks at Cole’s career post-Wonka, as she became a television star in her native England, married, and took to teaching stagework to children. Her story doesn’t see her fall into typical “E! True Hollywood Story” issues which, in itself, is very refreshing to hear from a child star. It certainly won’t entice those who feel the need to hear something saucy before they plunk down their money, but Cole’s story recounts a time she remembers fondly. I Want It Now provides a great first-person perspective of working on Willy Wonka, and though it’s light on gossip it makes up for it by creating a true time capsule of a moment and showing us that it was more than “pure imagination.”
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A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.