The Producers (1967)
- PLAYBOY: What else are you working on?
- BROOKS: Springtime for Hitler.
- PLAYBOY: You're putting us on.
- BROOKS: No, it's the God's honest truth. It's going to be a play within a play, or a play within a film - I haven't decided yet. It's a romp with Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun at Berchtesgaden. There was a whole nice side of Hitler. He was a good dancer - no one knows that. He loved a parakeet named Bob - no one knows that either. It's all brought out in the play.
In June 1963 Brooks invited Wilder to spend the weekend with him and Bancroft on Fire Island, where he gave him the first 30 pages of The Producers to read. He liked it immediately and Brooks offered him the part.
Three years passed without Wilder receiving a phone call or any contact with Brooks about the film. He assumed the project was dead. Then one night when he was performing in the play Luv, Brooks showed up in his dressing room out of the blue with producer Sidney Glazier in tow. It was as if not a day had passed. "We got the money, here's the script, you're Leo Bloom," said Brooks. Wilder couldn't believe it. There was just one obstacle: Zero Mostel didn't know Wilder and wanted to meet him first. If he passed muster with Mostel, he had the part.
Wilder was nervous about his first meeting with Mostel. "This huge, round, fantasy of a man came waltzing towards me," said Wilder in his 2005 autobiography Kiss Me Like a Stranger. "My heart was pounding so loud I thought he'd hear it. I stuck out my hand, politely, to shake his, but instead of shaking my hand, Zero pulled me into his body and gave me a giant kiss on the lips. All nervousness floated away...I gave a good reading and was cast."