Did you have a chance to see Wonka this weekend?
Wonka arrived in theaters Friday, December 15.
Based on the iconic character from Roald Dahl’s bestselling children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka tells the story of how a young chocolate-maker, with only a hatful of dreams to his name, manages to change the world.
Helmed by Paddington and Paddington 2 writer/director Paul King, Wonka stars Timothée Chalamet in the title role, which introduces audiences to a young Willy Wonka, as he becomes the world’s greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker. Starring alongside Chalamet are Calah Lane, Keegan-Michael Key, Paterson Joseph, Matt Lucas, Mathew Baynton, Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carter, with Oscar winner Olivia Colman, and Hugh Grant. The film also stars Natasha Rothwell, Rich Fulcher, Rakhee Thakrar, Tom Davis and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.
GlobalGrind Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden caught up with Calah Lane and Natasha Rothwell ahead of Wonka’s release to discuss the film. Lane plays Wonka’s trusted sidekick, an orphan named Noodle and Rothwell holds the role of Piper Benz, a plumber who finds herself trapped in indentured servitude alongside Wonka and Noodle. When we initially meet their characters they are in a bit of a hopeless situation, without much faith they’ll ever see their dreams come to fruition.
“Not to get poetic with it, but Langston Hughes talks about a dream deferred, you know what happens and I think that Piper is in a place where she’s forgotten how to dream because she feels so lost,” Rothwell told Global Grind exclusively. “Wonka’s arrival on the scene gives her that burst of hope and reminds her that even in her circumstances she can still hope for more and I think that’s just a beautiful through line throughout the movie.”
“I think my character was — I feel like she was born not dreaming,” Lane added. “She was born into having no mom having no dad and I just feel like she was taught to not dream or think about her life. She just does what everybody tells her to do and I feel like Willy Wonka really brings out the nice in her and the hopeful because she’s really really hopeful. The only thing she really dreams about is her mom, that’s the only thing that she wants in her entire life and I feel like Willy Wonka brings out the the good in her.”
After Wonka’s arrival, both Noodle and Piper start to find their strength by tapping into unique talents that prove extremely helpful to all of the workers at Mrs. Scrubitt’s — especially Willy.
“The costume design of the character definitely pulled inspiration from Rosie the Riveter,” Rothwell noted about her character Piper. “I think it’s just so cool because in addition to Rosie, there definitely were women of color that were working during the war as well and so to tap into that toughness and that need to be strong in tough circumstances it felt really cool, to be in the costume really did shape my connection to the character.”
For 15-year-old Lane, who is managed by her mom Treci and accompanied by her for all her jobs, the idea of being without a mother drove her performance.
“I felt like stepping into the role of an orphan really opened my eyes a lot because I’ve never experienced that before,” Lane said. “So being on set and feeling like I don’t have any mom and everybody was mean to me — not in real life — but in the movie when they said action, they took me there.”
Rothwell and Lane also spoke about getting close during production. Lane was in England with most of her family during filming, so Rothwell brought an apple pie and spent the Thanksgiving holidays with them.
“Calah was there with her whole family and I come from a large family and so I was a bit of a Thanksgiving orphan and Calah’s mom, Treci, she’s like, ‘Come join us!’ And I went and I was just like, ‘This feels like home.’ Then we connected when they came back to the States for a little bit and she’s like, ‘That’s my cousin right there.’:
One of our favorite parts about Wonka was watching Calah Lane shine alongside leading man Timothée Chalamet. We especially loved that she rocks her natural curls for the role — but we had to ask her about a pivotal scene where she ends up soaked in chocolate and whether her real hair got drenched in the process.
“I felt so good being able to be a part of this as an African American girl and rocking my natural hair and and like just for all the other girls out there showing that you can do this and you can be a part of a big film and you can do all of the stuff that you’ve dreamed to do,” Lane told Global Grind. “I was definitely honored to be able to do that but I did not get chocolate in my real hair. It was a wig. My mom made sure of that. She was like we’re not doing that because we’re not gonna wash it out right now.”
We love it that her mom is such a great advocate and we also love the representation of this film.
Wonka is in theaters NOW!