The actor, who plays the legendary chocolatier, recently spoke with GamesRadar+ about the movie musical, which focuses on a young Willy Wonka and how he came to meet the Oompa Loompas on one of his earliest adventures.
“Like many people, when there are remakes, I feel very protective over the original character and versions you love,” Chalamet said. “Your eyebrows go up with skepticism about [whether] this is a legitimate, worthwhile story or a cynical money grab.”
But once he read the first three pages of the script, the Dune star knew the Paul King-directed movie was something special on its own.
“The song ‘Hat Full of Dreams’ was in there,” he said, referring to the film’s opening musical number. “And there was no music to accompany it, but the lyrics were so clever. [It’s] about this young Willy, who was definitively not the crazy, cynical, kind of jaded, brain-fried version that we see in the two prior films but was very hopeful, young, ambitious, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer, maybe a little naive. I think that’s very clever.”
King previously told Rolling Stone that Chalamet didn’t have to audition for the role of Willy Wonka because “he was the only person in my mind who could do it.” Now, the Lady Bird actor also admitted that he wasn’t necessarily looking for an all-singing, all-dancing role at the time.
“I love musical theater and I love song and dance,” Chalamet explained. “And I love old Fred Astaire movies and the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. I didn’t think I’d get a chance to do it, not like this. But Paul King is one of these directors that you don’t say no to.”
Wonka hits theaters on Dec. 15.