“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” has its share of creepy moments, but the scariest by far is the psychedelic boat ride scene as the group flies through a tunnel of terror. In the scene, a demonic Wonka tells his Oompa-Loompa minions to row the boat “Faster! Faster!” While shooting the scene, the child actors did not know exactly what was in store for them, because it turns out, on set, Gene Wilder was sometimes as unpredictable as his character.
Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in the movie, told TIME in 2016, “Gene wasn’t a method actor and did take direction, but he was always creating his own thing. We never quite knew what we were going to get from him, particularly the boat scene in the film, when he went slightly loopy— whether that was improvisation or not I’ll never know, but we certainly didn’t see it coming!”
Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde, also recounted the truly terrifying filming experience. “I was quite surprised with that, there was no acting involved,” she told People that same year. “My chin dropped, hit the ground and never came back up. I had not anticipated that, it was not in the script that he was going to go off on that tangent. I was completely speechless.”