Wonka: Timothee Chalamet as Younger Version of Gene Wilder

‘Willy Wonka’ Stars Say Timothee Chalamet “Doesn’t Have to Be as Good or the Same” as Gene Wilder

Several actors who played the young Golden Ticket winners in the Gene Wilder 1971 film have shared their thoughts on the Oscar nominated actor taking over the iconic role for a Warner reimagining.

“One nice thing for them is they don’t have to do a direct comparison because it’s a prequel rather than a remake,” Themmen said. “So he doesn’t necessarily have to be as good as Gene was, which obviously is a hugely difficult thing to do.”

While Chalamet might not be able to bring the same spirit to the role as Wilder, who died in 2016, he is still talented and embodies much of the same look Wilder brought to the film.

“Talented actor,” Themmen said of the Dune star. “I don’t know if he has the wild eyes that Gene has, but he’s kind of got the hair. And a general look that’s kind of similar.”

While some fans of the 1970s film might object to the Warner prequel, which will see Chalamet starring as a young version of Wonka, Ostrum said the latest take on the classic tale is just part of the story’s legacy.

“You can’t kill Wonka,” said Ostrum, whose lone film role was playing Charlie — the generous but downtrodden child who found a Golden Ticket and won a trip inside the reclusive candymaker’s famous factory. “It just gets played over and over again, whether the original or the remake with Johnny Depp.”

Ostrum noted that Tim Burton’s 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which saw Depp taking on the mantle of Wonka, introduced young audiences to the original. He pointed to Burton’s darker adaptation as evidence that Hollywood’s attempts to remake Roald Dahl’s original 1964 novel are good for the story.

Johnny Depp in 2005 version

“That brought attention back to our film. Kids saw Johnny Depp’s version, their parents said, ‘You need to see the original,’” Ostrum told Yahoo. “Anything that talks about Wonka is good for the Wonka story. It’s a great story, and it needs to be retold, regardless of who’s producing it or who’s making it.”

During the interview, the cast also praised Wilder, with Cole saying he was nothing like his iconic character. “I think people kind of want us to tell you that he was like Willy Wonka off set, but he wasn’t,” she said. “He was such a lovely, kind man, very unassuming.”