Wonka: Timothée Chalamet divides the internet with first trailer for Willy Wonka prequel

Timothée Chalamet is Willy Wonka in first WONKA trailer.

It’s time to step into a world of pure imagination, as the first look at Timothée Chalamet as a young Willy Wonka in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel has arrived.

Directed by Paddington’s Paul King, and led by Chalamet, Wonka will tell the delicious origin story of how the exuberant, enigmatic lad came to be the world’s greatest chocolate-maker and open the world’s most-mysterious factory.

There are appearances from Great British Bake Off’s Matt Lucas and Paterson Joseph as Wonka’s rival chocolatiers Prodnose and Arthur Slugworth, while The Crown’s Olivia Coleman will star in an yet-to-be-revealed role (although, in the trailer, she appears to be working in a post office of sorts). 

Plus, in possibly the year’s most amazing piece of casting, Hugh Grant will play – wait for it – an Oompa-Loompa, alongside his Paddington 2 co-star Sally Hawkins, as Willy’s mum.

If that isn’t enticing enough, it’s a musical too, with original songs provided by Doctor Who soundtrack singer Neil Hannon. The aim, evidently, is to see cinema-goers leaving on a high, no Fizzy Lifting Drink required. 

In the three-minute trailer, we see Call Me By Your Name star Chalamet, as a twinky Wonka, find his first cocoa beans. With a few drops of secret, mythical ingredients, he begins to make his “dark, white, nutty, absolutely insane” chocolate.

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He attempts to open his first shop, despite apparent threats from his competitors (dubbed “The Chocolate Cartel”). But the plan appears to be thwarted when he is fined for having sweet, sweet daydreams about his impending chocolate empire.

Wonka’s star begins to ascend when he makes members of the public, well, ascend, after feeding them an ingredient that gives them the ability to fly. 

Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa.
Hugh Grant serving Oompa-Loompa realness.

The rest of the plot line remains a little sketchy, with the trailer teasing a runaway giraffe, Rowan Atkinson as a priest (not for the first time in his career), and Wonka and his child accomplice (played by This Is Us star Calah Lane) trapped in a basement slowly filling with chocolate.

While Wonka looks set to be one of the most anticipated fantasy films of the decade so far, the internet seems divided on one thing: Chalamet in the titular role.

Willy Wonka sits in a camp alongside Doctor Who and James Bond, in that, to mess up a depiction of the characters is seen as a fatal error. They are so emblazoned in the public consciousness that fans feel they have a sort of ownership over their legacy.

That probably explains why there are a lot of thoughts about the first look at the film. Some think that as an Oscar-nominated actor, Chalamet is more-than-qualified for the part. Others, though, reckon he must have acquired the role through some sort of golden-ticket process.

“To this day, I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that people think Timothée Chalamet is a good actor. Everything I’ve seen him in has just been extremely bland and droll,” one person wrote in a scathing post. “This… nope. No, thank you. Just further cements that there is only one Wonka: Gene Wilder.”

Funnyman Wilder, who died in 2016, starred as the kooky choc king in the original, 1971 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book, and is often credited with bringing the character to life. Johnny Depp, well-known for madcap roles, appeared as Wonka in the 2005 remake. 

“I’m very passionate about the original Willy Wonka movie and this looks so bad to me. Does no one else think his acting here is painfully bad?” one social media critic bemoaned.

A third added: “Willy Wonka’s a trickster. Beyond mischievous and nudging up against the sociopathic. He doesn’t invite those kids to his factory for fun. It’s a test and if they don’t do well, they get hurt. This feels totally disconnected from the actual character.”

Some feel that Chalamet’s kookiness feels too forced, while others just think he sounds a bit like RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favourite, Alyssa Edwards.

Others, however, believe the Little Women and Dune star managed to breathe new life into Wilder’s whacky protagonist, with one person writing: “Chalamet doing a great job of channelling Gene Wilder here (sob), and I am absolutely here for this fantastical balm.”

Another wrote: “Oh, this is going to be so much fun. Chalamet is channelling Wilder very well, the supporting cast are wonderful, and the creative team are so talented too.”

Some, meanwhile, are just grateful to see that silly, fun cinema has returned.

Cinema is back, whimsy is back,” exclaimed one over-excited fan. ‘Hugh Grant in a silly goofy comedy role is back.”

Wonka is due to open on 15 December.

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