Wonka Director Says Hugh Grant Looks Terrific as Oompa Loompa: Because Its CG, It Looks Terrible Until It Looks GoodIt’s a Miracle

The official trailer for Warner Bros.’ “Wonka” gave moviegoers a first look at Timothée Chalamet’s singing and dancing chocolatier. It also dropped a surprise at the very end: Hugh Grant sporting green hair and orange skin as an Oompa Loompa. How did such casting come about? Thank “Wonka” director Paul King, who previously cast Grant as the villainous Phoenix Buchanan in “Paddington 2.”

“Going back to the book, and reading all those poems, and hearing [the Oompa Loompas’] voice as a very sort of cynical, sarcastic, cruel, funny, but wicked voice, I went, ‘Oh… That’s sort of a bit like Hugh!’,” King said. “It was a real light bulb moment – you go, ‘Hugh Grant’s an Oompa-Loompa! Yes please! Merry Christmas, with a bow on it.’”

With “Wonka” not arriving in theaters until the end of the year, King said that he is still working on getting the visual effects for Grant’s Oompa Loompa down to a tee. However, the filmmaker said he’s loving what he’s seeing so far.

“He looks terrific,” King said, “but because it’s CG, it looks terrible until it looks good. And then you go, ‘Ah, perfect!’ It’s a miracle.”

Hugh Grant’s look as an Oompa Loompa matches the same version of the character as seen in Mel Stuart’s 1971 musical fantasy “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” which famously starred Gene Wilder as the eponymous chocolatier. King said Stuart’s interpretation of the Oompa Loompas is so definitive that there was no reason to stray from it in his “Wonka” movie.

“It just felt like that’s what an Oompa Loompa was, in my head,” King said. “I suppose because the ’71 movie is so beloved by me, as well as other people, I didn’t really want to reinvent the wheel on that. I felt like doing something that sat with that iconography. I love ‘Pure Imagination’, I love the Oompa Loompa songs, I loved how the Oompa Loompas looked. And that felt like the iconic look of Oompa Loompas.”

“Wonka” opens in theaters December 15 from Warner Bros.

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