Categories: Movie News

Little Prince Steven Warner Still Has Fond Memories of Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse, 48 Years Later

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Margeaux Sippell

Steven Warner was only 8 years old when he starred in the 1974 adaptation of The Little Prince opposite legends like Gene Wilder and Bob Fosse. 48 years later, he still has fond memories of working on the Paramount movie, even though the film is largely remembered as a commercial and critical flop.

Some of his most vivid memories of making the film are watching Fosse, the director of Cabaret, dancing in character as the Snake. Warner was too young to realize who Fosse was at the time, but he was “mesmerized.”

Warner tells the story on the latest episode of The Industry podcast, which is a crossover episode with Patrick Oliver Jones’ Why I’ll Never Make It podcast. The episode is a deep-dive into the 1974 version of The Little Prince and why — despite having Wilder, musical numbers by acclaimed Broadway team Lerner and Loewe, a dance sequence starring Fosse, and Stanley Donen as the director — it hasn’t been remembered so fondly by audiences and film critics.

You can listen to the episode on Repod or Apple or here:

“I just thought, Oh, the nice man that could dance. I had no idea who he was, because for me, it was normal. There wasn’t anything like, ‘Oh my god,’ and he didn’t act like a big star. None of them did. They were just normal people,” Warner said.

“During the whole process of filming, I was absolutely mesmerized by watching him dance, because, if you remember, dancing was the thing that actually got me interested in that industry in the first place. So every time you know the, the music was playing and the cameras [were rolling], I was just absolutely, transfixed, watching him dance.”

After filming had wrapped, Warner had a chance to watch a few scenes of the movie, and he immediately chose to see Fosse’s scenes.

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“I said, Oh, I want to see Bob Fosse dance. Can I see the part with the Snake? And my mom was like, Steven, you’re not really in that much, you don’t say that much [in that scene]. And I said, no, I want to see him dance because it’s amazing. I just was absolutely fascinated by his dancing. It wasn’t until a little bit later that the penny actually drops who that man was and what he was responsible for,” Warner said.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — The Little Prince

He also had very fond memories of shooting with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory star Gene Wilder, who played the Fox in The Little Prince.

“I absolutely loved that sequence with the Fox, and he was just the nicest person. He used to call me on my birthday for a good 10 years afterward, just to wish me happy birthday,” Warner said. “Such a lovely man.”

There’s also an interesting story about Wilder and The Little Prince. As he revealed in his 2005 memoir Kiss Me Like a Stranger, he had to move his scenes back a few weeks in order to step in as Jim in Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles.

“Mel called from a soundstage at Warner Brothers studio. ‘I need you right now,'” Wilder wrote in his memoir, which was excerpted in the podcast.

“‘Dan Dailey begged off doing the Waco Kid because he was too tired. I got Gig Young. Gig started foaming at the mouth on the way to the first scene in the jail. I thought he was just doing some preparation for the part. I said, keep doing what you’re doing. I didn’t know he’d just gotten on the wagon. We had to send for an ambulance to carry him out. I yelled, It’s a sign from God. I’m calling you from a payphone next to the set. Can you come right away?'” Wilder quoted from Brooks.

“Mel, I have to be in London in two weeks to do The Little Prince for Stanley Donen,'” Wilder countered. “‘Call him up. Ask if you can come later.’ I called Stanley in London and told him the situation. He said, ‘Do you really want to do Mel’s film’? I said, ‘I really want to help Mel if I can.’ ‘Alright, I’ll shoot your scenes at the end of the schedule instead of the beginning.’ I left for Los Angeles the next day.”

Main image: Steven Warner as The Little Prince.

Margeaux Sippell

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