Timothée Chalamet has shared the first official look at Wonka, the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel headed to theaters in 2023.
The Dune actor tweeted an image of himself in costume as the eponymous chocolatier, and also posted a further image to Instagram which presumably shows his character opening up a secret compartment hidden within his famous cane.
The images serve as the first official glimpse of the movie, which is being helmed by Paddington director Paul King. Like the Mel Stuart and Tim Burton adaptations of Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel before it, the story of Wonka will be told as a musical.
WONKA ✨✨🍫 pic.twitter.com/ozaerNtroPOctober 10, 2021
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Chalamet accompanied his Instagram post (below) with the caption, "The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last," in reference to Gene Wilder’s interpretation of Wonka in the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Unlike its predecessors, though, King’s movie will follow the titular character and his adventures prior to opening the world's most famous chocolate factory – narrative ground not covered in Dahl’s novel beyond occasional allusions to Wonka’s troubled childhood.
Principal photography on the film, which is also set to star Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman and Jim Carter, reportedly began in September 2021, and a release date has been scheduled for March 17, 2023.
Analysis: Can Chalamet breathe new life into Willy Wonka?
Given the Hollywood adaptations that have followed Dahl’s novel, the author’s original story is now a decidedly well-trodden tale, and it’s no wonder that audiences aren’t exactly chomping at the bit for another Wonka adaptation.
Still, Paul King’s movie, being a prequel story that we can only assume hasn’t been told before, looks to have a caliber of talent involved that could breathe new life into the iconic character.
King himself has a history of successfully adapting famous children's stories into incredibly watchable movies – his Paddington adventures were two of the most well-received films of the last decade – while Chalamet, who saw off competition from the likes of Donald Glover, Ezra Miller and Tom Holland for the lead role, is arguably Hollywood’s most in-demand leading man.
Still, you can’t help but feel as though Wonka’s talented cast and crew will have to try something dramatically different with this hallowed IP if the movie is to be a success.
Chalamet, in particular, would do well to depart from the overly-eccentric (but nonetheless brilliant) interpretations offered by both Wilder and Johnny Depp before him, if only to deliver audiences a thoroughly unique – and therefore more compelling – take on the character.
It has to be said, though, that this first look at Chalamet as the "scrumdiddlyumptious Mozart of chocolate" doesn’t exactly scream ‘different’. The character’s costume appears near-identical to those worn by the Wonkas of yesteryear, and its musical-based story suggests we won’t be treated to a dark origin tale in the vein of Todd Phillips’ Joker (which seems, in fairness, a good move).
That being said, King and co. could surprise us with a theatrical interpretation akin to Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, or a more subtle sing-along-adventure à la Damien Chazelle's La La Land.
Whatever happens, let’s just hope Wonka isn’t another Cats.
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