‘Will and Grace’ stars, Russell Crowe, and more pay tribute to Gene Wilder

Agence France-Presse
‘Will and Grace’ stars, Russell Crowe, and more pay tribute to Gene Wilder
Olivia Wilde, Uzo Aduba, director Mel Brooks, and more remember the great Gene Wilder

LOS ANGELES, USA – The news of Hollywood legend Gene Wilder’s death Monday, August 29, was greeted with shock by his legion of fans and fellow stars, who took to social media to voice their sorrow. (READ: ‘Willy Wonka’ star Gene Wilder dead at 83)

The star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had a body of work spanning five decades, including some of Mel Brook’s best-known comedies, as well as two Oscar nominations and an Emmy Award.

Here are some of the tributes from his numerous well-known admirers.

Mel Brooks

“Gene Wilder – One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship,” the director said on Twitter.

Rain Pryor

“Forever a great comedy film duo Dad and #GeneWilder RIP,” tweeted Rain Pryor, the daughter of Richard Pryor, who enjoyed a long comedy acting partnership with Wilder.

She explained on Facebook that the pair were never particularly close off screen, although they “saw each other’s genius and created hit films and were the best comedy film friends of all time.” 

“Gene was a true grown-up and I never saw him party. Dad was younger and we all know, he liked to party,” she added.

“The two together accepted the other. However, nothing could beat their magic on screen nor ever will.”


Will and Grace

In 1997, Wilder guest-starred on two episodes of NBC’s Will and Grace, winning an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor on a comedy series for his role as Mr Stein, Will Truman’s boss.

Eric McCormack, who played Will, tweeted that Wilder was “a genius I stole from constantly, and one I was humbled & thrilled to work with.”

“I can’t say what it meant to act with him and get to know his heart,” tweeted Debra Messing, who played Grace, describing Wilder as “a man who lit up the world with his joy and genius.”


“Gene Wilder (was) one of my earliest heroes. Blazing Saddles, Willy Wonka, are CLINICS on comic acting. Sad to hear of his passing,” said Hollywood A-lister Rob Lowe.

Australian Gladiator star Russell Crowe tweeted: “I saw Blazing Saddles 7 times at the cinema with my school friends… Gene Wilder you were a genius. “

British comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry thanked Wilder “for all those happy happy hours,” describing him as a “comic genius,” while Frozen actor Josh Gad said he was “the greatest comedic mind of my childhood.”

“RIP Gene Wilder & thank you 4 your pure imagination,” he added, in a reference to one of the Willy Wonka songs. 

Gad, who appeared in Broadway musical Book of Mormon also offered a lengthy tribute on Instagram, describing Wilder as “one of a kind.” 

“His ability to turn a phrase was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Whether he was channeling uncontained chaos in ‘Young Frankenstein’ or controlled nuance in ‘Willy Wonka,’ he was always a supernova of unmatched energy on screen,” Gad wrote.

“He dared you to take his eyes off him and we the audience always lost the bet.”

They don't make them like #GeneWilder. He was a one of a kind. His ability to turn a phrase was unlike anything I've ever seen. Whether he was channeling un-contained chaos in Young Frankenstein or controlled nuance in Willy Wonka, he was always a supernova of unmatched energy on screen. He dared you to take his eyes off him and we the audience always lost the bet. No doubt, this has been a rough year. We have lost too many greats and a lot of them were far too young, but today's loss is hitting me especially hard. During my time in Book of Mormon, I was blessed to encounter some of the finest entertainers and dignitaries. Every performance was like hosting an Oscar party or Governors Ball, but there were only two people I ever wrote to to come backstage after the show. One was Robin Williams and the other was Gene Wilder. Robin came back and we became fast friends. Unfortunately, Gene never did, because he had to catch a train back to Connecticut. He did however, leave a message for me that he was inspired by my lunacy packaged in pathos. All I wanted to tell him was, you taught me that. You gave me and millions of others the gift of your unmatched thunderous comedic timing wrapped in the gift of your delicate vulnerability. I have never seen anything like it before and I'm not sure if I ever will again. To borrow from one of Gene's most iconic songs, he was nothing but pure imagination. And his imagination will live on for eras to come as new generations continue to discover his great works. But for now, this loss stings. It marks the end of yet another icon who will not soon be replaced. And now more than ever, we could all use a bit of that miraculous untamed comedy mixed with enormous heart. “And so shined a good deed… in a weary world.” You will be missed good sir. RIP Gene Wilder

A photo posted by Josh Gad (@joshgad) on

Vinyl actress Olivia Wilde said “thanks for stopping by Earth for a while,” while director Kevin Smith described him as “the face of childhood joy for many a generation.”

The numerous actors, filmmakers and other personalities to pay tribute to Wilder also included John Cusack, Ricky Gervais, Elizabeth Banks, Albert Brooks, James Urbaniak, Larry Wilmore, Alan Tudyk, and Uzo Aduba.

– Rappler.com

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