The first photos have snuck out from the Willy Wonka prequel movie set thanks to its star Timothée Chalamet.
He took to Instagram to share a first look at the film with the caption, “The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last …”⏤a throwback to Gene Wilder’s dry delivery as the title character in 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Currently filming in England, the new Warner Bros. film, simply titled Wonka, will follow Chalamet as a younger version of the character on his way to becoming the eccentric chocolatier we all know and love.
Wonka first appeared in two Roald Dahl books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator (1972). While those two stories didn’t explore much of the fabled chocolate inventor’s life before becoming a recluse and issuing his famous golden tickets, his factory was packed with hints of his previous adventures.
While little is known about the new movie’s plot, the expectation is that this prequel film will fill in the gaps⏤and what a blank canvas it is. The one bit of backstory that the books reveal about Wonka’s earlier life is his encounter with the Oompa Loompas and their subsequent transportation from Loompaland to his gigantic factory. If the new movie covers that part of the story⏤and a golden ticket says it might⏤it will likely have a different take on some of those problematic themes. There’s no doubt that there are plenty of other adventures in store.
As the film’s premise has more than a hint of Fantastic Beasts around it, Warner Bros. seems a natural home for the project. The studio produced 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to critical and commercial success, although Johnny Depp’s Wonka wasn’t everyone’s cup of hot cocoa. Depp followed in the footsteps of Gene Wilder, who memorably took the role in the first adaptation in 1971. Since his casting was announced in May, fans have eagerly awaited Chalamet’s take on the character.
Netflix’s acquisition of Roald Dahl’s works in September 2021 raised a few eyebrows. Even though the streamer has been developing an animated Wonka series under the guidance of Taika Waititi for a while, fans wondered what the acquisition would mean for the Warner Bros movie. These on-set photos show that production is well underway.
Willy Wonka On Set
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Chalamet himself revealed the first snap from the set and several other behind-the-scenes shots from filming in Dorset, England, soon followed. Filmed at Lyme Regis Harbor, it’s thought that the snow-covered scenes show young Wonka arriving in England and hopefully stepping into a world of pure imagination. It certainly looks magical, with a smoke machine pictured on set for the winter scenes. Moored in the dock is the authentic steamboat Lydia Eva, which Wonka may have just disembarked. Part of Britain’s Historic Fleet, her construction in 1930 might hint at the scene’s period.
Chalamet’s costume captured the most interest. A classical look that could fit into several periods, many have picked up on its distinctly Dickensian feel. On social media, it’s been compared to the clothes worn by Peter Capaldi as Mr. Micawber in the recent David Copperfield and even Gonzo the Great, who played Charles Dickens himself in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
The outfit certainly suits Chamalet, who carries the distinctive red jacket, patterned cravat, tall hat, and walking stick with style. Even in these photos, Chalamet hints at the mischievous sense of humor Gene Wilder brought to the screen so well. There’s a callback to previous versions of the character. While it’s not as modern as Wonka’s tailoring in the 2005 film, it stands to reason that Wonka will be on a voyage of discovery at this point in his life, and his clothes aren’t quite as refined.
When Chamalet was cast, it emerged that Wonka will include dance numbers. While it hasn’t been confirmed that the movie will be a musical, original songs are being written by Neil Hannon, lead singer and witty lyricist of The Divine Comedy.
Wonka is being helmed by Paul King, who successfully brought Paddington and Paddington 2 to the screen. Chalamet will be joined by an all-star cast, including Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, and Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman.
The marketing campaign has certainly started early, a month after filming commenced. Wonka is set for release on March 17, 2023.