Peter Ostrum knew he better have a back-up plan after starring as Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He didn’t want to become one of those child actors that end up train-wrecks later in life.
“I thought I’d better work as hard as I possibly could to get into [graduate] school,” he said in an interview with HometownLife.com. “It was good advice [from an industry insider.] The Jodie Fosters and Ron Howards are few and far between. There are a lot of starving actors and it’s not because they don’t have talent.”
Ostrum doesn’t think of his acting career as necessarily related to his own talent. “Getting a part in a film, it’s like the perfect storm,” he admitted. “I was in the right place at the right time. Usually it’s out of your control.”
After earning his degree from Cornell University, Ostrum became a veterinarian in upstate New York.
“My interest and my expertise is working with dairy cattle, mainly Holsteins, some Jersey,” he said. “I like the animals, yes, but it’s the relationships that you build with your clients that are probably the most meaningful. You become part of their business enterprise and in many cases, a part of their family. You work with the same client time and time again. It’s a trust you build up between each other that I find pretty satisfying.”
Ostrum still remembers his movie career fondly and even attends screenings of the film.