Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

The Kid from Cleveland makes good

Cleveland Press June 4, 1971

The last time you saw Peter Ostrum in action was the son in the Play House production of "All the Way Home. "

The next time you see him it will be on the screen in a leading role in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The The movie is based on Roald Dahl's best-selling children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Peter plays Charlie.

Peter is back home now with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dean G. Ostrum, 2683 Ashley Rd. Shaker Heights. But from August through December he was in Munich making the movie.

PETER IS 13, celebrated his birthday while in Germany. He hasn't seen the picture yet, only some of the rushes -- unedited pieces of film.

"It's kind of like seeing somebody else," he said. "It's real weird."

Peter uses the word "great" to describe most of his experiences making the movie. His co-stars in the picture are Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, the candy-maker, and Jack Albertson as his grandfather.

"They're great, I loved them," Peter said of the two actors.

PETER HAS to sing and dance in the picture. It's a musical with a score by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley ("Stop the World, I want to Get Off" and "The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd").

Did he ever sing before?

"Yeah, a little, mostly in the Play House Youth Theater. I sang one little song in "All the Way Home."

"I never danced before but they had a choreographer show me how."

Peter had just finished the sixth grade at Malvern School when he got the role. Now he is in the seventh grade at Byron Junior High where things have settled down to normal and the questions from his friends have stopped. ("It was a little rough the first month.")

SCHOOLING continued on the movie set during the filming.

I had a tutor and we got school in whenever we could," he explained.

Peter was picked from approximately 100 youngsters, from around the country who were interviewed. A call came from a New York casting office to the Play House asking for a recommendation and Peter was suggested.

After they submitted a photograph the Ostrums were asked to have Peter do a taped interview which was arranged in Cleveland. Following that was an invitation to New York for a screen test.

THE FINAL call was an order to fly to Munich and start work.

Peter's father. Dean G. Ostrum, vice president and general counsel for Ohio Bell, rearranged his vacation and went over with his son.

Then his mother, Sari, flew over while father returned to work. She returned home briefly to take care of the wedding of their daughter, Karna, and Peter's one big regret about the whole experience was that he missed the wedding.

THE MOVIE is about a kid who gets the run of a candy factory. Did Peter have a sweet tooth?

"I did, but not now," he replied.

"Willie Wonka and Chocolate Factory" will be released nationally in July.