New Willy Wonka prequel film Wonka releases in cinemas this week, and while most of the focus is understandably on Timothée Chalamet's young Wonka, there are a host of major stars in supporting roles.


One of these is Hugh Grant, who is shrunk down in the film and plays an Oompa Loompa, seen in the trailer trading barbs with Wonka after he attempts to steal his chocolate. caught up exclusively with the film's director and co-writer Paul King, as well as co-writer Simon Farnaby, and asked where the idea for casting Grant came from and when it first appeared to them.

King said: "That was pretty early. I mean, obviously, the Oompa Loompas don't have any dialogue in the book, really, and the films, they've sort of got very little.

"But in the book they do have these very, very long songs - or they're presented as songs, they're poems.

More like this

"But they're so funny, and I was reading them sort of trying to get a voice in my head, and they're so sort of biting and sarcastic and scornful and incredibly funny, and Hugh's voice just kept coming towards me."

He continued: "And it probably wasn't a huge leap from there to go, 'What would Hugh look like 18 inches high with orange skin and bright green hair?' And that seemed like a pretty funny thing that I'd like to see."

Read more:

Meanwhile, Farnaby said: "I think Paul pitched that pretty early to me. Paul did the sort of story outline right at the start, and as soon as he mentioned the Oompa Loompa, you were like, 'I think we should have one Oompa Loompa in it, played by Hugh Grant.' And it was just obvious to me that that was a great choice.

"And obviously he'd done Paddington 2 and liked us, and we like writing in what we perceive to be his voice, which ends up being his voice. So that's always fun to write with him in mind."

Stars of the film Paterson Joseph and Mathew Baynton also spoke with, and explained why Chalamet is "worthy" of the role made famous on screen by Gene Wilder.

"He's just an insane talent," said Baynton.

Wonka will be released in the UK on Friday 8th December 2023. In the meantime, if you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Film hub for all the latest news.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.