He’s a genius that just can’t be beat. The magician and the chocolate wiz. The best darn guy who ever lived. And we’re getting his story this December: Wonka, a prequel to 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, has just released some new stills showing off the film’s star, Timothée Chalamet, and he’s clearly having the time of his life.
Entertainment Weekly exclusively unveiled the new stills alongside an interview with the film’s director, Paul King. In the stills, Chalamet can be seen mid-song-and-dance; here, audiences will get the chance to see Willy Wonka as he’s getting his start in the chocolate business.
And that’s what drew King to the movie. “I love the idea of telling a story where Willy Wonka wasn’t just this magical, admirable, extraordinary, inventive character, but where he was actually the emotional heart of the movie,” King said.
Here, the aesthetics of the 1971 classic are well-respected; King revealed that the film is intended to feel like a ‘companion piece’ to the original movie, with its setting being designed to resemble the world of the original film, only 25 years in the past. In fact, King shows a respectful deference to the original — and to Gene Wilder’s iconic performance.
King explained that the film does not try to replace Wilder’s version; instead, his aim was to make the film into ‘its own thing.’ King credited Chalamet for his own unique performance, calling the actor ‘brilliant,’ specifically praising his dancing and singing. King went so far as to say that few other actors could fill Wilder’s shoes, with the ‘manic and mischievous and mysterious energy’ surrounding Wonka making it a difficult role to nail. For his part, Chalamet said, “I’m just happy to embrace that and walk in those enormous footsteps.”
Interestingly, King also revealed that he worked with the Roald Dahl estate to find inspiration for what a young Wonka would be like. His search proved fruitful — and King says that Dahl was always looking to feature Wonka in another story. “He had a try writing a few stories and a few ideas,” Kind said. “None of them ever quite hit his quality control threshold, I don’t think, but it felt like he felt there was a life to Willy Wonka beyond Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Great Glass Elevator.”
Wonka will take place in the titular chocolatier’s early days. As he tries to start up his own chocolate shop, his efforts are hampered by the Chocolate Cartel — a trio of evil business tycoons: Mr. Prodnose, Mr. Fickelgruber, and Mr. Slugworth (Patterson Joseph). While we know that he’ll succeed and come out on top, it’s going to be a fun ride watching Chalamet grow into the character we know, love, and occasionally fear.