Imagine not even having to apply for your next job. Most of us don’t have that luxury, but then again, most of us aren’t Timothée Chalamet. According to Paul King (Paddington), who directed the upcoming reboot of the candyman story Wonka, his obsessive deep-dive into Chalamet’s high school rap videos was all he needed to know to confirm that the Dune star was his chocolatier of choice.
“It was a straight offer because he’s great and he was the only person in my mind who could do it,” King told Rolling Stone. Everyone from Donald Glover to Ryan Gosling and Ezra Miller were reportedly considered by Warner Bros. before Chalamet was cast in 2021. King, however, said he only had eyes for Chalamet, though he did do his homework to make sure the star could sing and dance.
“[But] because he’s Timothée Chalamet and his life is so absurd, his high school musical performances [singing “Sweet Charity” from the musical of the same name] are on YouTube [including his 2012 “Timmy Tim” rap] and have hundreds of thousands of views. So I knew from stanning for Timmy Chalamet that he could sing and dance really well. And I knew that was in his arsenal, but I didn’t know how good he was. When I spoke to him he was quite keen. He’d done tap dancing in high school and he was like, ‘I’d quite like to show people I can do that.’”
King’s origin story of Roald Dahl’s belovedly bonkers candy engineer Willy Wonka is due in theaters on Dec. 15, and the recently released first trailer teased Chalamet’s wide-eyed, whimsical take on the character first brought to life by Gene Wilder in the 1971 original.
“The 1971 movie, just because I’m as old as I am, was burnt into my eyeballs as a kid,” King said. “And I always loved the songs in that — Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley were incredible songwriters. The spirit of that and the joy of that seemed really important to the nature of this movie. Reading the book, there’s so much that Dahl writes in verse. So it felt like a no-brainer this should have songs in it.”
The director said having musical numbers was a no-brainer, even though he’d never done anything exactly like that before. “I’ve always had music and singing in things I’ve done, but to actually do proper musical sequences was a really fun challenge,” he said. “And because the film is set in the late ‘40s, it felt like a really fun hat off to the golden age of MGM musicals.”
The trailer only hints at the musical bits, with no sneak peeks at the original songs written by The Divine Comedy singer Neil Hannon and composer Joby Talbot (Son of Rambow). King, who co-wrote the script with Simon Farnaby (Paddington 2), told the magazine that the music in his film will pay homage to the Wilder Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory film directed by Mel Stuart, adding that he considers his take to be a “companion” to that film and Dahl’s 1964 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel it was based on.
The film also features Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, Olivia Colman, Jim Carter and Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa.
Watch the Wonka trailer below.