Gene Wilder died yesterday at the age of 83, and as frequently happens following celebrity deaths, random bits from his career have begun to resurface. That includes this lovely interview he and Richard Pryor did with Texas entertainment journalist Bobbie Wygant back in 1989. It’s not a particularly comedic chat (although there are plenty of jokes), but it shows off a more thoughtful side of both performers.
The duo were promoting their new comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and the conversation first turns to the research they did for their roles (Pryor plays a blind character and Wilder plays a deaf one). Perhaps surprisingly for such a broad film, they seem to have taken their preparation seriously; Pryor spent two weeks working with the Braille Institute, while Wilder studied for six weeks at the New York League For The Hard Of Hearing.
Wygant also digs into the dynamic of their partnership (See No Evil was their third film together), Pryor’s transition from stand-up to acting, and their personal lives. In an especially bittersweet moment, Wygant asks about Wilder’s then-wife Gilda Radner, who was battling ovarian cancer. She died only a week after See No Evil, Hear No Evil premiered. (Wilder later married Karen Boyer—a clinical supervisor for the New York League For The Hard Of Hearing—and the couple were together for the next 25 years until Wilder’s death.)