Peter Ostrum, a former child star, was found by Hollywood agents when he was in sixth grade while he was performing in a play. Only one year after making his debut in the movies, Ostrum made the decision to walk away from the life of a movie star, despite the fact that he would go on to feature in one of the most memorable films of the 1970s.
Peter Ostrum, who had a career as a child actor and was hired as Charlie Bucket in the 1971 fantasy film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” was an unremarkable person before the role.
When Ostrum was in the sixth grade, she was acting at the Cleveland Playhouse children’s theater, and that’s when she caught the attention of casting agents. The casting directors, who were looking for a young actor to play Charlie Bucket and take on the role of the main character in the movie, were very taken with him after their search took them all over the country.
Ostrum reflected on the time period in October of 2000, saying, “It was the pre-video age, so they snapped a few Polaroid photographs and tape-recorded me reading from the book.”
Following that, the agents informed him that they will get in touch with him while they were traveling back to New York. After waiting another two months, they contacted Ostrum about taking a screen test in the Big Apple.
The native of Texas found out a month later that he had been cast in the part, and he then proceeded to Munich, Germany, where production had already begun.
After meeting a veterinarian, why did Ostrum, then 13 years old, decide to give up his acting career?
Ostrum was just 12 years old at the time, and his family was traveling all over the world while the movie was being filmed. He said the following in reference to the “exciting” experience:
It was quite similar to the experience of being a foreign student for a period of five months.
The former cast member of “100 Greatest Kid Stars” spoke about some of his favorite recollections from working with his fellow actors, including the late Jack Albertson (who portrayed Grandpa Joe) and Gene Wilder, who was Willy Wonka.
However, very early on in his life, Ostrum came to the realization that creating movies would not be one of his long-term goals. He said that the industry was not as simple as performers portrayed it to be on screen.
When shooting was over, executives at the studio wanted to give him a contract for three movies in exchange for his signature on a dotted line. During the time that they were filming the movie, Ostrum had already turned 13 years old.
On the other hand, although he was pursuing a career in acting, he discovered another passion after returning from Germany. After his family made the decision to purchase a horse, he began working at the stable where the equine was housed.
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The influence of a single individual was a significant factor in the development of Ostrum’s passion for horses. He went on to describe how the horse’s veterinarian had a role in his choice to pursue a career in veterinary medicine rather than acting:
“I distinctly recall the veterinarian going out to the stable to take care of the horses, and the experience left a significant mark on me. This individual was content with the work that he conducted for a livelihood. My curiosity was piqued when I heard about someone earning a livelihood doing something that he liked doing so much.”
After spending some time as a groom at a few different stables during her gap year, Ostrum started working at the Delaware Equine Center in Pennsylvania. However, he had trouble being accepted into veterinary school, so he decided to get in touch with the people he had previously collaborated with on “Willy Wonka” in order to continue acting nonetheless.
Ostrum went to California in an effort to determine whether or not he would be successful in the entertainment industry; nevertheless, once he returned home, he became even more determined to enroll in veterinary school.
Despite this, he entertained the idea of taking a different career path in the event that things did not go as planned with the veterinary school. Nevertheless, it was not something that he could simply put out of his mind, and he did not want to spend the rest of his life in a state of perpetual regret:
“I would constantly tell myself, “you should have attempted to go into veterinary school.” This thought would always be in the back of my mind. If I didn’t try to achieve that goal, I’d constantly feel like a failure.”
Because he would not give up, he was granted admission to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, and he went on to get his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree there in 1984.
A practitioner who specializes in dairy work, the former movie star is now known by his professional name, Dr. Peter Ostrum. Before his role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” Ostrum had never appeared in any other film. Despite the fact that the film was essential in the commencement of his acting career, the only time he ever appeared on screen was in that one movie.
As a big animal veterinarian, he once said on “Veterinarians on Call” that he enjoys spending time outside and “going from farm to farm.” This was more than a decade ago.
Ostrum believes that being a veterinarian, in which he works with animals to assure the quality and safety of milk and meat for human consumption, is “the finest profession in the world.” He has a successful job, and when asked about it, he said, “I think I’ve found my niche.”
Ostrum continued by saying that veterinary medicine is an invigorating career since it gives him the opportunity to think more and find solutions to difficulties. At the same time, it focuses on the more physical components, which are his favorite parts of the whole experience.
He made a joke about the fact that another perk of his profession is that he does not gain weight while working since he is always on the go and that each day is different from the one before it.
Ostrum does not consider himself to be famous and, in fact, finds it “amusing” and “amazing” that people still approach him because of his performance in “Willy Wonka” to this day.