Have you checked out Wonka yet?
Wonka director Paul King spoke with Global Grind about the film ahead of its release 12/15. King spoke about pulling from Roald Dahl source material to create the prequel, with Timothee Chalamet starring as a young Willy.
“Charlie and Chocolate Factory is a book I adored growing up and there’s all these great stories about young Willy Wonka in them,” Paul King told GlobalGrind. “He was a character that Roald Dahl came back to again and again through his life. It felt like an area of his life he was really interested in but never explored. So when the opportunity came to play with the Roald Dahl world that he created, the Willy Wonka world, and explore more of the young Willy Wonka for a kind of origin story, I just leapt at the chance.”
Of course we had to ask King about working with Timothée Chalamet on Wonka, and he told us that the collaboration was actually in the making for years.
“It really was a dream of mine for right from when I saw Call Me By Your Name and I thought he was unbelievable and so good I could hardly believe he was acting, it just felt so true,” King recalled. “Then I saw him in Ladybird and he was so different. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, he’s just incredible.’ I was lucky enough to meet him that year. I was trying to write a script for him, but I could never quite get it to work and then when the idea of Young Willy Wonka came along, it was like ‘Ah yes, like put your hands together!’ So it was a joy.”
It turns out another joy for Paul King was penning the Wonka villains, who we can attest are really some of the baddest baddies we’ve seen onscreen in some time. King actually credited Roald Dahl for the inspiration, noting, “in a Roald Dahl universe, the villains are the most fun, they’re the most evil, they’re completely irredeemably awful and they’re a joy to write.”
Of course, there’s an argument to be made that the Willy Wonka that most of us know from Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s portrayals is a darker figure himself. In King’s version of Wonka there’s really an incredible balance between Wonka, who is optimistic, altruistic and full dreams, and his opps — Scrubbit and the Chocolate Cartel — who reflect the kind of greed and deceptiveness that good people in the real world are constantly battling to avoid.
“I always felt that when you meet Willy Wonka in Charlie [and the Chocolate Factory] he’s like this brittle, strange, enigmatic exterior, but at the end of the movie he’s like a chocolate, cause you go he has the most amazing act of generosity, he’s looking to give away his life’s work to a child, and so we were interested in taking that spirit of kindness and generosity and seeing how he was right at the start, when he’s a kind of naive, wide-eyed young man taking his first steps into the world. But of course because it’s a Roald Dahl universe, the world is not the kind, warm, fuzzy place that say Paddington meets, it’s peopled with these horrendously selfish mean spirited villains.”
King also addressed giving Oompa Loompas a voice via Hugh Grant.
“I loved the idea that Oompa Loompas don’t have much dialogue in the book or either of the movies,” King told GlobalGrind. “But in the books especially, they have these incredible long songs and they’re so funny and sarcastic and witty, but kind of quite judgmental. They’re all these things and they take this sort of gleeful pleasure in the demise of all the ghastly children touring the factory, so I was just reading these poems over and over trying to get a sense of voices and Hugh’s voice, because he shares some of those characteristics, kept coming into my head. Once I had that, I thought, ‘Well that, with the Dahl description of him, you know knee-high with orange skin and and green haired, it was too irresistible to to resist.”
Wonka is in theatres now!