Earlier this year, Warner Bros’ prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had some pretty exciting names in the mix to play Roald Dahl’s iconic confectionary wizard. Both Dune’s Timothée Chalamet and Spider-Man himself Tom Holland were mentioned as being up for the lead in the film simply titled Wonka. And now, it’s been reported that a champion has been crowned, with Chalamet set to step into the top hat and overcoat of Willy Wonka’s younger self.
Per reporting from Deadline, Wonka has now nabbed the Academy Award nominated actor for its lead, with the Paddington 2 team of writer/director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby being the creatives involved in this incarnation. Also mentioned in said reporting is the fact that Timothée Chalamet will get to show off some major song and dance skills, as Wonka is going to have musical numbers included, which is a return to the form of the original 1971 film. So fans of the young Dune star are going to have a lot to look forward to, now that he’s officially on board.
Based on the competitive decision to cast Timothée Chalamet as the lead of Wonka, as well as the news reporting that a musical component will yet again be in the mix, the tone for this third bite at the apple is clearly established. As Chalamet has a look that feels right at home as a younger version of Gene Wilder’s incarnation, it feels like Warner Bros is definitely looking to shore up the legacy of this particular hit from their catalog. And the news couldn’t have come at a better time, as 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s release into theaters.
Perhaps the most important fact about Wonka is the fact that, for the first time, Willy Wonka himself is going to be front and center in the story. There’s certainly hints towards what the past held for Wonka, as the original film does set up the story of a man who turns his back on the outside world, after exploring so much of it in the name of candied perfection. Now, the world will get to know the story behind the man of pure imagination, with Timothée Chalamet taking the world into that story this time around.
Tie in the fact that Paul King and Simon Farnaby are going to be shaping Wonka with the same sort of sensibilities they brought to the Paddington franchise, and you’ve got a recipe that could lead to success. It can almost be assured that this prequel will continue the tradition of family friendly whimsy, with the edges of more grown-up humor poking out. While King and Farnaby are not working in Paddington’s world of marmalade coated delight, the universe of chocolate and any candy you could imagine looks to be a fantastic new home for their talents.
It still sounds like an absolutely sweet proposition, as Wonka is set to open the gates to Willy Wonka’s illusive past on March 17, 2023. Meanwhile, there’s still plenty of films approaching a theater or streaming service near you, and the 2021 release schedule is there to seek them out. Most importantly, the business of the here and now will provide a welcomed distraction from the thoughts of a Paddington/Wonka crossover; especially so close to lunch.