Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could be the most recent major motion picture franchise to undergo a gender transition, with reports that the creators of a new prequel film are considering a female actor as the lead role. According to The Sun, movie stars like Charlize Theron have been considered for the lead role of Willy Wonka.
A source told The Sun that, “A female lead is being considered. Film bosses realise it could spark a backlash but believe a female Wonka is a great way to give the classic story a fresh look.”
If the executives ultimately decide to go with a male actor in that role, some names that have been kicked around are Ryan Gosling and Justice League actor Ezra Miller. Brad Pitt has also expressed interest in the role, but there is no indication that he is being considered.
Paddington director Paul King has been hired to direct the forthcoming prequel, which will be released by Harry Potter producer David Heyman.
The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was popularized by the late Roald Dahl who first published the book in 1964. Less than a decade later, the book was turned into a film where Gene Wilder played Willy Wonka.
However, Dahl was reportedly “infuriated” by the 1971 musical rendition because dramatic changes were made to the story. The last adaptation of the film came in 2005, where Johnny Depp, stared as the leading role, with Tim Burton as the director, but it is not clear what Dahl thought of that version.
In 2016, Warner Bros acquired the rights to the character from the Dahl estate, and began planning the secretive new project.
Not much is known about the plot of the new film except for the fact that it is a prequel, which means that it is set before the events of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
During an interview with Collider in 2018, producer David Heyman said, “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. 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.”
The previous two films have been extremely vague about Wonka’s history, with the newest version featuring Johnny Depp offering a few details about his overbearing dentist father. Even Dahl’s original book does not explore Wonka’s backstory, so there is plenty of room for those working on the new project to use their imagination. However, if a female actor is cast for the lead role of Wonka, it is unclear how much this will factor into the plot, if at all.
What do you think about this story? Would it be a welcome change to see a female-identifying actor in the led role of Willy Wonka, or is it a step too far?