Timothée Chalamet takes on the role of the famed chocolatier Willy Wonka in the upcoming Wonka. From Paul King comes an intoxicating mix of magic and music, mayhem and emotion, all told with fabulous heart and humour. Starring Timothée Chalamet in the title role, this irresistibly vivid and inventive big-screen spectacle will introduce audiences to a young Willy Wonka, chock-full of ideas and determined to change the world one delectable bite at a time—proving that the best things in life begin with a dream, and if you’re lucky enough to meet Willy Wonka, anything is possible. In the movie, Keegan-Michael Key plays a pivotal role.Keegan-Michael Key on starring in Wonka with Timothée Chalamet: “He engenders a certain excitement in you”
Talking about working in Wonka and his first script reading, Keegan revealed, "I was overjoyed, to be quite honest with you, by what I was reading. I had been a big fan of Paul King’s and the Paddington movies, and even his work way back when on British TV. He used to direct a show called The Mighty Boosh. And I just thought that his work was so touching and whimsical, heartfelt, fun and exciting. And to have the opportunity to be asked to do something like this was just the bee’s knees for me. I was ready and raring to go from moment one of reading the script. It was just so wonderful and the right kind of magical. It’s the right kind of fantastical for the world of Willy Wonka. I think that he really brought this breadth to the story that makes it epic, which makes it feel like a novel. And I think that Roald Dahl would’ve been proud."
He added, "There’s a timeless quality to the Gene Wilder film, which I think is a lot of people’s introduction to Willy Wonka. It certainly was for me. I think I saw the movie or pieces of the movie before the book was read to me in school when I was a kid. And there’s this everlasting, timeless, classic feel to just uttering the name “Willy Wonka.” It makes us feel that there’s a fantastic sense of imagination that is going to be foisted upon us in a moment when you hear the name. That whatever conversation follows, it’s going to be rife with magic."
Speaking about his character, Keegan added, "My character is the Chief of Police, and he is just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Chief of Police, as everybody suspects, until you see that he’s actually in cahoots with the Chocolate Cartel, which are the three men who actually run the town… or certainly run the business side of the town. And that means that nobody can open a chocolate shop anywhere near these three men without there being some kind of interference or some kind of hardship. And the person who provides that hardship is my character, the Chief of Police. But, what he wants ultimately is chocolate. He has an addiction to chocolate that he doesn’t want to admit in the beginning of the movie. And then, as time moves on, you realize more and more that this addiction has taken a hold of him and he’s willing to do almost anything to get more chocolate."
Speaking of the lead actor Timothée Chalamet who plays the titular role, Key said, "He’s such a giving partner. There’s something so wonderful about the way that he shares the screen with you. But he also engenders a certain excitement in you, because there’s an excitement in Timmy that comes out naturally that can’t really be described, but it brings that out in you, too. And it was an absolute joy."
Talking about developing the character and first discussion with director Paul King, he added, "Our first discussions were all extremely pleasant. Paul King is one of the more pleasant people I’ve ever encountered in my life. He’s just lovely. He’s a lovely, lovely man and a very creative type… but creative in a very practical way. I think that’s how he does his filmmaking, too. And I think we had a lot of discussions about dialect and accent, and what he wanted my character to sound like within the fabric the project. And I had volunteered to do different accents. Like, I said I could do a British accent… And we opted for other things, but we had a lovely lengthy discussion about what he would me to sound like. And that was at the first meeting, I think before the role was really offered to me, but even then, I was having a good time."
He continued, "We discussed it for a bit and we talked about doing some sort of an American regionalism. And so, we talked about a couple of different things. One was doing a Boston accent, and we worked on that for a little bit and tested that out. And then we decided on doing more of a Brooklyn, New York accent, so that there’s this rough sound. At the end of the day, what Paul wanted him to sound like was a cop. And not a Bobby, not a British Bobby, but like a good old meat-and-potatoes American cop. So, that’s what we finally honed in on, and that’s what we ended up doing."
The film also stars Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Colin O’Brien, Matt Lucas, Simon Farnaby, Natasha Rothwell, Rufus Jones and more. Warner Bros. has described the prequel story as a “vivid, mythical beginnings of the imaginative young inventor before he becomes the renowned scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate.”
Directed by Paul King, the musical is slated to hit theatres on December 15, 2023.
ALSO READ: Wonka: Timothée Chalamet’s magical musical turn as Wonka unveiled in new trailer at CinemaCon
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