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The 'Willy Wonka' Prequel Is Officially a Go, but Who Will Play Willy?

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Jan. 19 2021, Published 5:15 p.m. ET

With COVID-19 delaying many Hollywood productions and film releases, there has been a shortage of new content. On top of that, movie theaters all around the country are closed due to state-regulated COVID-19 restrictions. 

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With the hopes that things will be “back to normal” sooner than later, production companies have had to brainstorm new ways to get people interested in movies again. Warner Bros. is on track to release a Willy Wonka prequel called Wonka on March 17, 2023. With talks of the new film’s release date being official, many are wondering if there are any details about a cast including who is going to get the honor of playing Willy Wonka himself.

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Source: Warner Bros.
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The 'Willy Wonka' prequel will chronicle life before the chocolate factory.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. studio describes the film as focusing on "a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world’s most famous chocolate factory." 

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Collider talked to producer David Heyman on the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald press tour, and he described the journey to find out exactly where fans would find Willy Wonka in the prequel. “We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is. It’s a prequel, it’s not a sequel,” he revealed.

“What makes Willy—when we find him at the chocolate factory doing the golden ticket, where is he before that? What leads him to that place where he’s locked himself away? It’s how does he get there? So we’re playing around with that," he continued.

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While the film has been in the works for quite some time, it wasn’t until 2021 that the studio released a date for the film’s arrival. David Heyman will act as producer, and Paddington director Paul King will direct. Simon Farnaby co-wrote the script. 

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“It’s early days for this project and it won’t be shooting while the UK is in lockdown. The hope is for a September shoot. No casting yet,” Deadline reported.

So, if there is no official casting yet, do we have any ideas of what the studio could be thinking as far as the lead role goes?

An insider at Warner Bros. says that the role of Willy Wonka could go to a woman in the prequel.

In an interesting turn of events, some news outlets are reporting that Warner Bros. is considering casting a woman in the role of young Willy Wonka. “A female lead is being considered,” a source told The Sun. 

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“Film bosses realize it could spark a backlash but believe a female Wonka is a great way to give the classic story a fresh look,” the insider continued. The insider also claimed that after Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the character of Willy Wonka from the Roald Dahl estate in 2016, the idea of a Willy Wonka prequel has been on everyone’s mind.

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Warner Bros. is said to have a shortlist of potential actors to play young Willy Wonka.

According to Collider, Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling, and Ezra Miller are on Warner Bros.’ shortlist to play the famous candy maker. Revenge of the Fans had an interesting take on these three candidates, mentioning that this version of Willy Wonka would be different from the one portrayed by Johnny Depp. Filmthuist took to Instagram and said that Warner Bros. is reportedly eyeing either Tom Holland or Timothee Chalamet to take on the role of the eccentric chocolatier.

“All three actors are solid choices and will bring their own spin to the Wonka character,” the outlet wrote. “Gene Wilder’s witty and sarcastic take famously brought the character to life in the 1971 classic, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, while Johnny Depp played a more childlike version of the character in Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation of the book.”

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