Willy Wonka prequel movie Wonka arrives in cinemas next week (8th December), starring Timothée Chalamet in the role made famous on-screen by Gene Wilder.


Wilder starred as Roald Dahl's character in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, with the performance having become a firm favourite with film fans over the years.

Wonka also stars Paterson Joseph and Mathew Baynton as villainous chocolate makers Slugworth and Fickelgruber, and the duo spoke with RadioTimes.com exclusively about why Chalamet was perfect for the titular role

Asked what it was like to work with Chalamet, Joseph said: "I mean, he's a craftsman. He comes on, he's got all this stuff he's got to do, he's got to learn all these lines, he's got to learn all this choreography, he's got to sing, and he's also got to be the life and soul when he's as the character.

"But Timothée never had a moment - you sort of almost expect it - where there was a bit, 'Oh, I can't do this any more, I've got to go off.'

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"He was always there available to us, laughing and sort of keeping it going, and then just crafting a character that feels like it's just him. Brilliant."

Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory sitting next to a boy in a top hat
Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Warner Brothers

Meanwhile, Baynton added: "Yeah, and there's not many people who can combine that skill set.

"You know, there are some parts that you could kind of cast any actor, right? But there are some where there are such specific demands that there's very few people who are going to be able to do all of those things to such an incredible standard. He's just an insane talent."

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Joseph continued: "And also worthy, for those of us who love the Gene Wilder movie, a worthy young Wonka. I don't think there would have been, as you say, another actor who could have played him, having seen the Gene Wilder and loved it.

"You can absolutely see him growing into that character. He's a rare one."

Wonka features a huge ensemble cast which also includes Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Matt Lucas, Tom Davis and many more.

It comes from director Paul King, who is best known for his work on both of the recent Paddington films.

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.


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