Warner Bros. is making a new prequel to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and it has cast 25-year-old Timothée Chalamet in the lead role. Deadline reported that Chalamet will play a young version of Wonka in an origin story film titled simply Wonka. The characters, settings and concepts will be drawn from Roald Dahl's beloved writings, but the story will be brand new.
Chalamet is best-known for dramatic roles and has yet to show off the singing and dancing skills he will need here. However, producers are reportedly confident that he can deliver, and perhaps even carry a franchise of films based on this beloved intellectual property. Chalamet was their first choice long before the decision was finalized, though so far fans have been less confident on social media. Many are wondering whether this movie even needs to be made in the first place.
Wonka is directed by Paul King and co-written by King and Simon Farnaby, though the project has been through four other writers already during its development. As a prequel, the movie will tread new territory in this fictional world. Dahl only wrote two books in the series — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
Fans are likely more familiar with the two film adaptations of the story created so far — the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Factory starring Gene Wilder in the lead role, and the 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp as Wonka. This time around, Charlie Bucket will not be featured, and fans speculate that the movie will give more details on the origins of the Oompa Loompas.
Chalamet is already an Oscar nominee and is now highly sought after for big franchises and tentpole projects. However, so far fans have not really seen him in any. He will make his fantasy-action debut in October as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve's Dune — also a Warner Bros. production. Based on trailers for that — and more niche roles, such as the lead in Netflix's The King — fans seem relatively confident he can play a convincing leading man.
Chalamet's best-known roles so far are in the movies Call Me by Your Name, Beautiful Boy, Lady Bird and Little Women. His busy schedule also includes the upcoming movies The French Dispatch from Wes Anderson and Don't Look Up from Adam McKay.
Whether that skill set will translate to the eccentric Willy Wonka remains to be seen. So far, there is no release date in place for Wonka.