Video Interviews

Timothée Chalamet and the Wonka Cast on Recording "Pure Imagination", Favorite Candy, and More

Director Paul King and stars Chalamet, Keegan-Michael Key, Calah Lane, and Natasha Rothwell talk about creating their characters and honoring the legacy of the source material.

by | December 15, 2023 | Comments


If you’re going to make a prequel to a beloved classic film adapted from a beloved classic novel, you’d better get some top-notch talent to do it, and Warner Bros. has done exactly that for Wonka, a look at how the eccentric chocolatier from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came to be. Behind the camera is Paul King, the man who brought us two of the most highly acclaimed films on RT in Paddington and Paddington 2, and taking on the role of young Willy Wonka is Timothée Chalamet, who is joined by folks like Hugh Grant, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins, and more.

Ahead of the film’s release, King, Chalamet, Key, and co-stars Calah Lane and Natasha Rothwell sat down with RT correspondent Nikki Novak to talk about the film, sharing their favorite sweets and describing what it was like to record a new version of the song “Pure Imagination,” the iconic tune from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryWonka is in theaters on December 15, 2023.

Nikki Novak for Rotten Tomatoes: Timothée, every film that I’ve seen you in, you have such a natural way on camera where you don’t see the acting. Very understated, very natural. This was the total opposite. It required something very different of you. Singing, dancing, something more outwards. What was that adjustment like for you in becoming Wonka?

Timothée Chalamet: It was a tonal adjustment because the movies I’ve been in — even something like Dune that’s 8,000 years in the future — they have a very naturalistic quality, and this was very much old school storytelling, sort of golden age of musical, MGM musical, as you put it before. So that was a shift and sort of like a stamina adjustment to always be “on”, because the character, as opposed to Willy Wonka in the Tim Burton version and the Gene Wilder version, who’s sort of intaking what’s going on… I think in the Gene Wilder version, he shows up maybe 30, 45 minutes into the movie. This is really like the… Willy Wonka is propelling his own story here. It’s a different story. So it was a new challenge.

Timothée Chalamet in Wonka (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

RT: Letting go of all your inhibitions.

Chalamet: Absolutely. It sort of felt like… I remember seeing Daniel Day-Lewis at a Lincoln Q&A in high school, and he said how important failure is, and letting go, and that always stuck with me, because he’s probably the goat.

Keegan-Michael Key: He is the goat.

Chalamet: And so definitely having to let go of inhibitions here. And then I shouted, “Do a sequel!” It was the greatest.

Key: “Do a sequel!”

Chalamet: That was one of my top high school moments.

Watch the video for the full interview with Timothée Chalamet, Keegan-Michael Key, Paul King, Calah Lane, and Natasha Rothwell.

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