After making Paddington 2, one of the best films of the 21st century, writer/director Paul King went off with Timothée Chalamet to make a Willy Wonka prequel movie. Set to release on December 15, we finally now have a first look at King's new film Wonka in the form of the first trailer which can be watched below:
One of the highlights of the brand-new trailer is seeing Hugh Grant with an orange face playing an Oompa Loompa. After playing the absurd villain Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2, Hugh Grant's voice just popped into King's mind for the role. The two working together on Paddington 2 really made the conversation between King and Grant about him playing an Oompa Loompa much easier. “If we hadn't made a film together, it might have been a harder ask but I think we were both quite happy to work together” said King, before jokingly adding “or at least I was happy to work with him. Maybe he just needed the money.”
Wonka isn't another remake of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story that we all know, but instead, King chooses to tell a different story and to tell a part of Willy Wonka's story that we don't know. King describes Wonka as being about when he's a young man, “he's coming to this snooty, uptight European home of chocolate for the first time and thinking it's going to be a meritocracy and because he's good at making chocolate he'll just make it, and it's about him discovering that the world is much more complicated than that.”
There are villains in the way stopping Willy from making the chocolate that he wants but Wonka serves as the other bookend of the story to the older character that we know and have seen towards the end of his life that was looking for an heir. “He's a very different character, but equally he's a character who can grow into that character as he ages.”
You can't make a film about chocolate without getting to taste a bit of it- or indeed a lot of it. “The best job we had was on Monday mornings we had chocolate tasting and we had an in-house chocolate maker called Gabriella who is a complete genius…everything that is eaten in the film is completely edible, and not just edible but exquisitely delicious.” A great amount of research and thought went into creating all of the chocolate that we see in the film and in the trailer and the filmmakers made sure that everything was actually created and was edible.
After initially filming with something that wasn't chocolate but was instead water mixed with various colours and emulsifiers so that it looked like chocolate, King decided that the best thing to do was to actually use real chocolate and thus the end result that we see in the film was in fact real chocolate. “It looked and tasted like chocolate which is great” said King. “There are literally gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons and gallons of chocolate at the end of the film and it's fantastic.”
As a kid that read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory many times along with Roald Dahl's other stories, it was the combination of comedy and the larger-than-life grotesque characters that are the beating heart of the stories that Paul King likes to tell, and Wonka is no exception to this. But King also liked the differences between Wonka and the Paddington films. Paddington had a few roguish characters but overall King describes it as about “the kindness of strangers” whereas the idea of getting to dip his toe into a more cynical world with more rotten eggs out there really appealed to King and Wonka gave him the chance to do just that.
Boasting an all-star cast including Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Matt Lucas, Keegan-Michael Key and Rowan Atkinson, Wonka has all the makings of a fun time at the cinema with the family this Christmas including musical numbers! Getting to make Wonka as a musical was a joy for King. Getting to pay homage to the great MGM musicals of the 40s really added an extra layer of fun but we're going to have to wait a few more months until we get to witness the musical numbers and taste all the chocolate for ourselves.
Wonka releases in cinemas on December 15th