Getty images
Getty images

Inside Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor's Complicated Relationship

Jaimie-lee Prince
May 24, 2019
08:36 P.M.

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were one of the best comedic duos in the '70s and '80s, but their off-camera relationship barely existed.


Pryor and Wilder first paired up in 1976 for the comedy "Silver Streak," shot in Canada. It was the start of a series of coordinated ad-libs and flowing improvisations that earned admiration from viewers.

The two would go on to star in three more films together, and their great on-screen brotherly chemistry was widely apparent. Off-screen, however, Wilder's mature demeanor versus Pryor's uncontrollable drug use simply didn't mesh.

Pryor's poor work ethic led to disaster

The two kept their personal lives totally separate, only meeting up if they had to for work. 1980's "Stir Crazy" was their second big hit, and it was also when the public got an inside look at Pryor's wild behavior.

Late actors Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder | Photo: Getty Images

Late actors Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder | Photo: Getty Images


Wilder revealed in an interview that his co-star would show up between 15 minutes and an hour and a half hours late for work at times. Many times, he would be high or drunk.

According to Biography, during an interview with Pryor in which he was reportedly drunk, the actor used too many swear words for the recording to ever air. He also called Wilder some explicit names, but it was most likely not a real implication of what he actually felt towards his co-star.

After that incident, Pryor spiraled further down into drug addiction and alcohol abuse. He even made an attempt on his life by dousing himself in alcohol and setting himself on fire.

Late actors Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder | Photo: Getty images

Late actors Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder | Photo: Getty images

The pair missed out on Trading Places


Pryor's destructive behavior made him and Wilder miss out on the starring roles in "Trading Places." The two were the first choices for the slots, but they ended up going to Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

The comedy went onto become one of the biggest hits in the early '80s, but it wouldn't be until the late '80s that Wilder and Pryor worked together again for their final two times.

But they found success elsewhere

They starred as one deaf and one blind man in 1989's "See No Evil, Hear No Evil." This time, Pryor was well-behaved onset and less of a challenge to work with. The film did well, topping the box office for two weeks.

Richard Pryor, late actor | Photo: Getty Images

Richard Pryor, late actor | Photo: Getty Images


Their last film was 1991's "Another You," and it was not nearly as good as their previous work. The two had lost their luster, and the comedic magic between them was nearly gone.

Failure was also rampant in Pryor's personal life

Just as his relationship with Wilder was somewhat complicated, Pryor's real love life also had a twist. He was married seven times to five different women.

When he dated Pam Grier in 1977, it quickly came to light that Pryor not only had drug issues but severe insecurities. He actually ended the two's relationship just a year later because Grier beat him in tennis twice.

But before that, Grier discovered that she had cocaine on her cervix because of Pryor's drug use and their unprotected love life.


Wilder spoke on the duo's relationship

Unfortunately, Pryor passed away over a decade later in 2005 from a heart attack. In the same year, Wilder released his memoir, "Kiss Me Like a Stranger."

In it, he described his relationship with Pryor which he likened to "sexual attraction." He further explained that "as close as [they] were on film, it just didn't carry over to our private lives."

He added:

"Richard traveled in his own circle. You could count on one hand the times that we saw each other when we weren't working, and even then there was always a work-related reason why we met."

Richard Pryor and ex-wife Jennifer Lee in 1995 | Photo: Getty Images

Richard Pryor and ex-wife Jennifer Lee in 1995 | Photo: Getty Images


Pryor's daughter also gave her input

In 2016, Wilder passed away from Alzheimer's complications. Pryor's daughter Rain Pryor decided then to speak on her father and Wilder's relationship in a Facebook post.

She said:

"People always ask. 'Were Gene Wilder and Dad friends?' I always answered 'Not really, however they saw each other's genius and created hit films and were the best comedy film friends of all time.' "

Please fill in your e-mail so we can share with you our top stories!
By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy

news.AmoMama.com does not support or promote any kind of violence, self-harm, or abusive behavior. We raise awareness about these issues to help potential victims seek professional counseling and prevent anyone from getting hurt. news.AmoMama.com speaks out against the above mentioned and news.AmoMama.com advocates for a healthy discussion about the instances of violence, abuse, sexual misconduct, animal cruelty, abuse etc. that benefits the victims. We also encourage everyone to report any crime incident they witness as soon as possible.

Related posts

Brooke Shields Proudly Shows Her Wrinkles While Posing with Daughter Who ‘Looks So Much’ Like Mom in Photos

December 06, 2023

Blue Lagoon' Star Brooke Shields' Red-Haired Daughter Appears in Mom's Old Dress: 'Absolutely Gorgeous'

December 13, 2023

Ryan O'Neal's 4 Kids: Two Were Raised with 'No Food', While One Became Oscar-Winner

December 13, 2023

Farrah Fawcett Set Strict Parameters for Inheritance Use by Ginger-Haired Son with Ryan O'Neal – Details

December 12, 2023

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Actor Richard Lewis Dies at Home – Cause of Death Revealed

February 28, 2024

Husband Lays on Couch All Day Ignoring Wife’s Pleas for Help until Ambulance Takes Her Away — Story of the Day

March 18, 2024

Ben Stiller's Son, 18, Continues Family Acting Tradition & 'Looks Like His Grandpa Stiller'

November 13, 2023

Richard Giannotti Was Once Joy Taylor’s Husband – He Has Remarried

November 18, 2023

My Husband Vanished Weeks after Our Wedding — 17 years Later I Meet Him at Church

March 14, 2024

‘SNL’ Dana Carvey’s Son’s Official Cause of Death at 32 Finally Revealed – Details

January 23, 2024

Francine Valli Was in a Relationship with Richie Ramone When She Died

November 25, 2023

Nicole Kidman Signed Prenup Which Helped Keith Urban Get Sober & Made Him Change for His Family

January 23, 2024

'Emily's Been Keeping a Big Lie from You All This Time': Mother-in-Law Reveals a Secret Under Anesthesia

February 12, 2024

This Man Is a Legendary Musician’s Son – He Called His Mom ‘Dragon’ & His Uncle Got Custody of Him

February 02, 2024