Actors Who Played The Iconic Willy Wonka Character:As fans get their first glance at Timothée Chalamet’s Willy Wonka, consider the other actors who have played the iconic character.
Since 1971, when Gene Wilder portrayed Charlie in the first film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, four distinct stage and screen actors have portrayed the character.
While it comes out that Dahl himself was not a fan of the original adaptation, generations of fans disagreed, making it an enduring classic. Johnny Depp portrayed Willy Wonka in a remake of the film in 2005. In 2016, Christian Borle portrayed the chocolatier in a stage adaptation of the story on Broadway, and in 2023, Timothée Chalamet will don the iconic top hat and purple coat in Wonka.
Wonka director Paul King recently told PEOPLE of Chalamet, “Obviously, he’s following in the footsteps of some truly phenomenal performers who have played the role before, so the bar has been set extremely high.” “I think what’s so remarkable about his performance is not only that he is funny, mischievous, and quite mysterious — just like the Willy Wonka that people will recognise — but also that he brings so much heart to the role and is such a gifted actor.”
King added, “He is incredibly emotionally intelligent and can bring a great deal of emotional authenticity to the role.”
From Wilder to Chalamet here’s a closer look at all of the Willy Wonka actors throughout the years.
List of Actors Who Played The Iconic Willy Wonka Character
Timothée Chalamet, 27, assumes the role of the idiosyncratic chocolatier in Wonka, which is scheduled for release on December 15, 2023. The film, which is inspired by Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is a character origin story that takes place before the events of the 1970s film.
Fans may be astonished to see Chalamet singing and dancing in this role, given that he is known for his acting ability.
“It was truly a tour de force for him,” King, 44, told PEOPLE of his performance, adding, “He honed his skills for months, which was a pleasure to observe.”
In an interview with Vogue UK for his September 2022 cover story, Chalamet described the film as “so joyous.”
The actor was able to “escape” while filming the movie, which features seven musical numbers, according to the outlet.
“I hate to say it, but as an artist, your dream is to throw whatever the f— you want at the wall, you know?” Chalamet remarked. “And I suppose what I’m realising is that one’s personal life, adult life, can be quite mundane, whereas the life of an artist can still be extraordinary.”
Sally Hawkins, who portrays Willy Wonka’s mother, Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Olivia Colman, Jim Carter, Matt Lucas, Caleah Lane, and Natasha Rothwell co-star with Chalamet in the film. (And yes, you did see Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa.)
In a departure from previous portrayals of the character, Crispin Glover’s Wonka in the 2007 film Epic Movie was not so much for children. The parody film, which also stars Kal Penn, Jennifer Coolidge, Darrell Hammond, and Carmen Electra, lampoons epic films such as The Da Vinci Code, The Pirates of the Caribbean saga, and, of course, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Glover’s rendition of Willy Wonka is a bit more sinister, using body parts from four unfortunate visitors in his candies, but that iconic Wonka costume cannot be missed.
In 2005, Johnny Depp portrayed Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, more than three decades after the original film’s release. In addition to Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, the film featured Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Bucket and AnnaSophia Robb as Violet.
On the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2012, he described his inspiration for the performance as “I fantasised what George Bush would be like … tremendously high. And thus was created my version of Willy Wonka.”
Roger Ebert stated that although the film was “mostly delightful,” Depp’s performance did not impress him in his review.
He wrote, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory succeeds despite Johnny Depp’s performance, which should have been the film’s highlight.” “Depp, a gifted actor, has never been afraid to take risks, but this time he makes the incorrect choice. His Willy Wonka is a mystery in Tim Burton’s otherwise mostly delightful film, where the visual invention is a marvel.”
This film also featured musical numbers composed by Danny Elfman, who stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was not bound to the nostalgia of the original film. “Those tunes from the original [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] are iconic, but I couldn’t care less… Either you forget about it or you pay it homage.We made the decision early on not to pay homage to the original.”
The film grossed more than $475 million worldwide, according to Entertainment Weekly.
A musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story debuted on Broadway in 2017, bringing the story to life.Willy Wonka was portrayed by Christian Borle, even though Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ran for less than a year.
Borle told Vogue about the “Wonka suit” he wore in the show: “When we were doing the fittings, I said, ‘I’d really like for him to be put together and actually quite elegant, and to avoid any cartoonishness.'”
He continued, “The only thing I’m not receiving, which is disappointing, is a cane that shoots fire; apparently, this is a safety issue or something.”
Three juvenile actors shared the role of Charlie Bucket alongside Borle: Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Sell and Ryan Foust.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, released in 1971, was the first time Roald Dahl fans saw the fantastical world brought to life.Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Willy Wonka cemented his status as an icon and garnered him a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a motion picture.
Despite the adoration the film has received over the years from fans, it turns out Dahl was not a devotee. In fact, he would not allow the film to be reproduced or the rights to be sold for a sequel during his lifetime. 15 years after his demise in 1990, his estate approved Burton’s endeavour.
And in an ironic reversal, once the film was remade with Depp donning his iconic top hat, it was Wilder who expressed his disapproval of the film.
“It’s just some people sitting around pondering, ‘How can we make more money?'” Why would you otherwise reproduce Willy Wonka? Per Entertainment Weekly, he stated in 2013 at a 92Y event, “I don’t see the point of going back and doing it all over again.”
He added, “Right now, the only thing that mitigates this for me is that Willy Wonka’s name does not appear in the title.”
Wilder co-starred with Peter Ostrum, Jack Albertson, Julie Dawn Cole, Denise Nickerson, and others in the 1971 film.
The admired actor passed away in 2016.