A pre-Oompa-Loompas Willie Wonka heads to the big screen with an amazing cast in tow!

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Full disclosure. Re-makes tend to scare me, whether it’s big or small screen. Pre-Endeavour, prequels used to scare me too. Neither really ever came close to meeting expectations based on the original until Shaun Evans brought a young Detective Constable Endeavour Morse to life during his early career with the Oxford City Police CID.

While I’m reserving judgement on an announced 2023 release of Wonka, given it will be really hard to touch Gene Wilder’s definitive 1971 portrayal of the iconic children’s literary character, recent announcements as to casting may just have me looking forward to this one.

Principal filming began in London last week with Timothée Chalamet in the title role as an imaginative young inventor who has yet to become the legend we all know and love from Roald Dahl’s books. Chalamet sports an impressive CV (Call Me by Your Name, The King, Little Women, Dune) but it’s the supporting cast that has me intrigued.

Olivia Colman (Twenty Twelve, Fleabag, Broadchurch, The Night Manager, The Crown), Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean, Blackadder, Maigret), Jim Carter (The Singing Detective, My Week with Marilyn, Downton Abbey), Mathew Baynton (Spy, Horrible Histories, Wrong Mans, Ghosts) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, The Shape of Water) are just a few of the legendary British actors who have also joined the cast.

There are two books centered on Charlie Bucket and his adventures with Willy Wonka—Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the weirder, less-adapted Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Wonka, which was co-written and directed by Paddington director Paul King, will go beyond the Roald Dahl canon of two, focusing instead on the early years before Willy Wonka became an eccentric, reclusive chocolatier, according to Warner Bros who describe the film as “an exploration of the vivid, mythical beginnings of the imaginative young inventor before he becomes the renowned scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate.

Fortunately, 2023 is a long way off as I’m going to need some convincing that a prequel to the greatness of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka is necessary. Thankfully, I have some time to get over my personal issues with re-makes and prequels.


In: Odds & Sods