Wonka Director Addresses Decision To Cast Hugh Grant As An Oompa Loompa After Backlash

The filmmaker faced criticism for not casting an actor with dwarfism in the role.
Wonka stars Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant
Wonka stars Timothée Chalamet and Hugh Grant
Jeff Spicer via Getty Images

Wonka director Paul King has spoken out about his decision to cast Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa in the new Timothée Chalamet film.

The British actor stars alongside the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman and Sally Hawkins in the musical prequel, which tells the story of Willy Wonka’s origins before he opened the world famous chocolate factory.

The Notting Hill actor’s casting sparked a lot of conversation when the trailer for the new movie was revealed back in the summer, with many voicing their disappointment that the role wasn’t given to an actor with dwarfism.

“A lot of actors [with dwarfism] feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love,” actor George Coppen told the BBC.

Oompa Loompas in the previous two films based on Roald Dahl’s beloved books – 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp, and 1971’s Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder – have been played by actors with dwarfism.

However, Paddington director Paul has stood by the casting choice.

“Dahl describes [the Oompa Loompas] as no higher than my knee or about the size of a medium size doll,” he told BBC News at Tuesday’s world premiere in London.

“We tried to use the iconic look that they came up in the 1971 movie with the green hair and the orange skin, and merge that with the way Dahl described them, in a way I think they may have done, had they had the technology we have today.”

Paul King
Paul King
Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

The trailer’s surprise reveal of a miniature-sized Oompa Loompa with Hugh’s well-spoken British accent left viewers divided, with some describing it as “iconic”, while others branded the performance “nightmare fuel”.

Meanwhile, the film has been met with positive early reactions from critics who got a first-look at The Call My By Your Name actor in action as the famed chocolatier.

Some critics, however, have voiced their disdain over the inclusion of repeated “fat jokes”, and questioned some of the film’s weaker plot points.

Wonka arrives in cinemas on Friday 8 December.


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