Filming has officially started on Wonka, the upcoming prequel in the works at Warner Bros. Pictures inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The movie stars Timothee Chalamet (Dune, Call Me By Your Name) in the lead role as a young Willy Wonka with Paul King (Paddington movies) serving as the director. While this is a new take on the source material, it is based on the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory story by Roald Dahl.
The full cast has also been revealed for Wonka. Along with Timothée Chalamet as Willy, Wonka stars Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English, Mr. Bean), Mathew Baynton (The Wrong Mans, Ghosts), Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Tom Davis (Paddington 2, King Gary), Simon Farnaby (Paddington movies, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Rich Fulcher (Marriage Story), Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Paddington movies, Spencer), Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Paddington 2, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Paterson Joseph (Vigil), Emmy and Peabody Award winner Keegan-Michael Key (Schmigadoon), Calah Lane (The Day Shall Come), Matt Lucas (Paddington, Little Britain), Colin O’Brien (The Mothership), Natasha Rothwell (White Lotus, Insecure), Rakhee Thakrar (Sex Education), and Ellie White (The Other One).
An official logline for Wonka reads, “Chalamet leads a star-studded ensemble in an origin story that explores the vivid, mythical beginnings of the imaginative young inventor before he becomes the renowned scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate.” In other words, this is a prequel story focusing on Willy Wonka’s rise from an ordinary young man with a penchant for sweets into the world’s most famous – and eccentric – candymaker.
Paul King directs using a screenplay he co-wrote with Paddington 2 co-writer Simon Farnaby (with prior writers including Simon Rich, Simon Stephenson, Jeff Nathanson, and Steven Levenson). Michael Siegel and Rosie Alison are serving as executive producers. King’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey; Oscar-nominated production designer Nathan Crowley; editor Mark Everson; and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming. Neil Hannon of the band The Divine Comedy is writing original songs for the movie.
Oscar-nominated producer David Heyman (Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood), who produced the Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and Paddington films, Luke Kelly, who produced the recent feature adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches as well as the upcoming Matilda, and Alexandra Derbyshire, who executive produced the Paddington films and the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, are producing Wonka.
Gene Wilder famously played Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the original movie adaptation that was released in 1971. The movie is widely considered to be among the greatest works of cinema of all-time, recently garnering a lot of fans to give it a revisit in honor of its 50th anniversary. More recently, Johnny Depp played a new incarnation of Willy Wonka in 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Both Wilder and Depp have their fans who prefer their respective versions of the story. It remains to be seen where Timothee Chalamet will fit in once Wonka joins the fray.
Wonka is currently filming in the UK. The movie is scheduled for a theatrical release on March 17, 2023, and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.