The Big Picture
- Timothée Chalamet’s portrayal as the iconic chocolate maker in Wonka has garnered anticipation, but the Oompa Loompas are equally intriguing with their unique songs and disciplinary actions.
- Director Paul King wanted the new Oompa Loompas to embody the sarcasm and wit found in Roald Dahl’s novels, ultimately casting Hugh Grant for his ability to deliver humor without appearing smug.
- Wonka will focus on a younger Willy Wonka, and will see Chalamet showcasing his singing talent through several musical numbers.
Even though people will certainly line up to see Wonka in order to check out how Timothée Chalamet (Dune) played the iconic title role, you can’t dissociate the chocolatier from its distinct factory workers, the Oompa Loompas. An attraction of their own, the tiny creatures are known for making up songs on the fly as they er… eliminate children who misbehave inside the chocolate factory.
For Wonka director Paul King (Paddington), it was important for the new Oompa-Loompas to have the sarcasm and wit that the characters display in the original Roald Dahl novels. Once he decided that, he realized that there was only one actor who could do this sort of humor without coming off as smug: Hugh Grant (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves).
In an interview with Total Film magazine, the filmmaker revealed that the invitation to Grant was a bit awkward:
“I was enchanted by the idea of these impossibly tiny beings, far smaller even than the child-sized me. The voice and the attitude of the Oompa Loompa came from revisiting the books – long songs full of humour, sarcasm, superiority and scorn. So it was really just thinking about that character – someone who can be a real shit. And I went, ‘Ah, Hugh [Grant]!’ Because he’s the funniest, most sarcastic shit that I’ve ever met! We’d been there before with ‘Paddington 2.’ I had to write him this awkward letter, saying, ‘You’re good at playing washed-up, old hams…'”
Willy Wonka: Third Time’s the Charm
Wonka is the third film adaptation from the Roald Dahl novels and, depending on its success, it might end up becoming the first one that gets a sequel. This time, however, the story won’t focus on the kids selected to visit Willy Wonka’s factory but rather the origins of a younger version of the eccentric chocolatier and how he came to know and work with the Oompa-Loompas as he traveled the world.
Much like previous adaptations, the adventure will also be a musical, and Chalamet will have seven musical numbers throughout the movie. King recently shared high praise for Chalamet’s performance and singing voice in the movie. Jolby Talbot (Sing) is the composer of the movie’s score. The cast also features Olivia Colman (Heartstopper), Rowan Atkinson (Man vs. Bee), Keegan-Michael Key (Schmigadoon!), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Matt Lucas (Polar) and Simon Farnaby (Ghosts UK).
Wonka is set to premiere in theaters on December 15. Stay tuned to Collider for updates.
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