Here’s a crazy what-if in the world of movie casting. Dwayne Johnson has revealed on Instagram that he was strongly considered to play Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the remake of the Billy Wilder classic from the ‘70s.
The action star posted a clip from the movie revealing that not only is it one of his favorite films, but that he was showing it to his daughters for the first time recently, which brought back the crazy story about almost starring in the remake.
“’So shines a good deed, in a weary world’ This morning I introduced our babies to one of my all time fav films – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. They loved it and now fully expect me to deliver a room full of chocolate and candy. That’ll be my next project. Some cool history – back in the early 2000’s, iconic director, Tim Burton had considered me to play Willy Wonka is his remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
This is unbelievably random and what Burton saw in Dwayne Johnson that made him think the former wrestler would be great for the part of a super eccentric candy maker is very unclear. Remember, this was very early on in his career as an actor, too. He was coming off of The Rundown and Walking Tall and wasn’t anywhere close to being the A-list star he is today.
Johnson also mentions this in his Instagram post, as well as pointing out that the eventual lead of Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, Johnny Depp, was perhaps the biggest star in the world in 2005.
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This morning I introduced our babies to one of my all time fav films – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. They loved it and now fully expect me to deliver a room full of chocolate and candy. That’ll be my next project 🤣 Some cool history – back in the early 2000’s, iconic director, Tim Burton had considered me to play Willy Wonka is his remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I remember thinking “HOLY SHIT, IM IN” 🎶 😳🙋🏽♂️ But that was many years ago when I was just starting out in Hollywood with no foundation of global box office strength or any real acting experience to even pull it off. The role, of course went to Johnny Depp, who at that time was the biggest star in the world. The rest was history. And down the road I went. The fact that Tim even considered me (albeit I’m sure he considered for all of 7 seconds:) sure meant a helluva lot to me as I was just breaking in to the business with no idea what the future had in store. I’ll always raise a glass 🥃 to the dreams that don’t come true, because sometimes they’re the best thing that never happened. #BigBrownBaldTattooedWonka 🍫💪🏾
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Burton has been one of the most successful directors in Hollywood for more than 30 years, but there was no way Warner Bros. was going to sign off on Johnson starring over Depp. Especially when you consider the film cost $150 million to make.
Everything worked out alright in the end, though, as the movie was a hit, earning more than $475 million worldwide and scoring positive reviews (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) despite Depp’s strange performance, which is a borderline Michael Jackson impersonation that hasn’t exactly aged well.
Johnson, meanwhile, has stuck mainly to action films in the past decade. Still, it would be interesting to see him mix things up and work with a director like Burton. There’s obviously still time for this strange collaboration to happen, but what an interesting bit of trivia nonetheless.