‘I played Augustus Gloop in the Willy Wonka original – now no one recognises me in my current job’

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

Ever wondered why the actor of Augustus Gloop is up to now? When Michael Bollner took on the role of the gluttonous German teenager in the 1971 movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” little did he know that it would become a cult classic, remaining evergreen even fifty-two years later.

Born in Munich, Germany, Bollner was just 14 when he played the role of Augustus, the boy who loved to eat. The character’s demise in the story resulted from his voracious appetite, ultimately being sucked into a pipe after falling into a river of chocolate. This was Bollner’s first and only film role; his ambitions to continue in the acting industry were thwarted by his parents, who insisted he prioritise education.

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Celebrating the golden jubilee of the film in 2021, Bollner, reflecting on the filming experience, spoke about his nonchalant attitude toward the movie at the time. He confessed on ITV’s “This Morning,” “I just went down to make this movie, stayed there for a few weeks, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I thought, ‘This is just a movie, and it will fade away very quickly.'”

But fade away, it did not. Instead, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” grew in popularity, the story enchanting children and adults who dreamed of stepping into the fantastical, candy-filled factory. However, Bollner revealed that the filming conditions were far from sweet.

Bollner revealed that the infamous chocolate river scene wasn’t quite as delicious as it appeared on the screen. “It was cold water old water, terrible stinking water, it had been there for weeks, and it was very shallow, just 10cm deep,” he revealed. “There was a small space of about a square metre where I had to jump in; it was dangerous because the water was not clear.”

Following his short-lived film career, Bollner returned to school as per his parents’ wishes. He later became a successful tax attorney in Munich, where he still resides. Although he distanced himself from acting, he is still fondly remembered by film fans and occasionally appears at conventions and interviews to talk about his experience as Augustus Gloop.

Today, Michael Bollner is a unique example of someone who touched the stars early in life, only to return to everyday existence. Despite the stark contrast between his early acting fame and his later professional career, Bollner looks back at his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory experience with warmth and good humour, forever a part of a timeless masterpiece.

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