The director absolutely wanted Hugh Grant to play “the washed-up old guys”.
Paul King, the director of Wonka who will stage Timothée Chalamet during the chocolatier’s youth, tells how he convinced Hugh Grant to play the role of an Oompa Loompa. The two men had already collaborated on Paddington 2 and the director reveals to Variety the singular method he used to “seduce” him: “The voice and attitude of the Oompa Loopas come from the reinterpretation of the books – long songs full of humor, sarcasm, superiority and contempt.”
“So we had to think about this character – someone who could be a real jerk”, he explains. “And I was like, ‘Ah, Hugh (Grant)! Because he’s the funniest, most sarcastic idiot I know. I had to write him this strange letter saying ‘You’re good at playing washed-up old guys’ (…) Once you see Hugh Grant as a 20 centimeter man, orange with green hair, you say to yourself ‘Oh yes. I know what Oompa Loompas are. It makes perfect sense.’”
In an interview given to Empire, Paul King reveals that he used digital special effects to make the character Hugh Grant resembles the version in the 1971 film directed by Mel Stuart, starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Paul King considers the Oompa Loompas in this version to be perfect, and that there was no reason to move away from them in his film Wonka.
He fully assumes his choice of representation: “I feel like that’s what an Oompa Loompa looks like in my head. (…) I think I like the 71 version so much, like other people, that I didn’t want to reinvent everything on this point. I wanted to do something that built on that iconography. (…) I love the look of the Oompa Loompas. And I felt like that was the iconic look of the Oompa Loompas.”
Wonka is a musical comedy about Willy Wonka’s youth and beginnings as a chocolatier. The film will be released in theaters on December 13, 2023.
Wonka: Timothée Chalamet is a great singer according to Paul King