Aptly titled I Want it Now! based on the character she is most well-known for playing (at least for me), Julie Dawn Cole's memoir is a love letter to any person of any age who has ever loved or been charmed by the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder. The book largely focuses on her childhood experiences on the set of the beloved film and how that shaped her life thereafter.
In a way, reading about the "making of" a movie from one individual's perspective is a little bit like discovering the man behind the curtain, but Cole manages to transport the reader right back into the fantastical world of Wonka's chocolate factory. And after having read this book, I still find it every bit as enchanting as always, now perhaps even more so.
Julie Dawn Cole's life is not your typical "Hollywood story". Her childhood was full of hardship, and she was fortunate to have the right sort of mentoring and support at the right time (both at school and at home) to ultimately make the decision to attend an acting school instead of continuing her education in the usual way.
Cole discusses her life situation before and during her time at that school in depth, up until the point at which she was called in to audition for a part in this upcoming film adaptation of Roald Dahl's hit book (the first criteria she met was being the right age). Though she wrote the memoir as an adult and many years later, it's apparent that these experiences are still all quite vivid and absolutely cherished in her memory banks. All of her love and affection for her time during filming and the people who surrounded her just poured out of the pages. Honestly, this book is pretty much the furthest from what you'd expect of her character, Veruca Salt!
After discussing the film's production at length, she gets into everything that followed: the sort of roles and other gigs she took on afterwards (such as voice acting, eventually), her love life, and the life- and career-altering experience of becoming a single mother of two. Through everything, she always held on to that magical period of her childhood role on the Wonka set.
What came as a big surprise to me is that while most of the cast went on to prolific acting careers and were rather successful, some didn't continue acting afterwards and instead went on to be business men, or in the case of Peter Ostrum (he played Charlie Bucket), a veterinarian. It's always cool to learn about what people go on to do with their lives after working on something that was special at the time, but later on became a beloved classic and a permanent fixture in pop culture.
I recommend this book to fans of all ages. It contains plenty of great stories, and Cole included a nice (and hefty) selection of pictures as well. She shares her experiences intimately, even discussing her childhood crushes and first loves, and showing scans of letters she wrote home while she was away filming. She didn't need to share all of that personal information, but it adds a lot of heart to the book, making it not just nostalgic, but so very easy to get sucked in to. I found myself completely forgetting about what was going on around me while reading, and I've had various songs from the film stuck in my head for days.
Julie Dawn Cole's I Want it Now! A Memoir or Life on the Set of 'Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory' by the original Veruca Salt was originally published in February 2011, and I read it in Kindle format.
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