Hollywood superstar Timothée Chalamet has legions of stans who follow the actor's every move, but is his Wonka director Paul King one of them? It appears so, given that the filmmaker (Paddington, Paddington 2) has admitted to closely watching the young performer's career over the years. Chalamet's big break, of course, was Call Me By Your Name, for which he was a 2018 Oscar nominee for Best Actor (the third youngest man to ever do it), but King revealed he even watched old high school videos of the actor when he was a mere student at New York City's prestigious LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.
Seeing as how King's Willy Wonka prequel will feature plenty of singing and dancing from Chalamet and the rest of the Wonka cast — you got a sneak peek of that when he broke out into the Oompa Loompa Song at the movie's Tokyo premiere — the director had to make sure that the actor was up for the musical task.
What director Paul King said about hiring Timothée Chalamet as Wonka
During a July 2023 interview with Rolling Stone, King revealed that Chalamet was his only choice for the role of the titular chocolatier, so confident in the casting that he didn't have the actor audition. However, he did check that Timothée could sing and dance using those music videos, saying:
It was a straight offer because he’s great and he was the only person in my mind who could do it. But because he’s Timothée Chalamet and his life is so absurd, his high school musical performances are on YouTube and have hundreds of thousands of views. So I knew from stanning for Timmy Chalamet that he could sing and dance really well.
Those now-viral videos consist of the actor rapping under the moniker "Lil Timmy Tim," seen performing Nicki Minaj’s “Roman’s Revenge" onstage during a school talent show and spitting lines in a statistics-themed class project. Chalamet once discussed the silly clips on an appearance on The Graham Norton Show during his Little Women promo tour, calling his rapping "horrible, bad, the worst."
However, it seems like they worked enough to convince King that he was the right man for the job, as he said in the same Rolling Stone interview:
I knew that was in his arsenal, but I didn’t know how good he was. When I spoke to him he was quite keen. He’d done tap dancing in high school and he was like, ‘I’d quite like to show people I can do that.'
As for his approach to the famous candy maker, King said that his adaptation should be thought of as a "companion" to the beloved 1971 Gene Wilder movie, as well as the 1964 Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that started it all.
What Timothée Chalamet had to say about those high-school rap videos
When asked about the high school videos by Variety, Timothée Chalamet admitted that they did play a part in his casting. As he put it when the videos were mentioned:
I know, damn… they sort of did, in Paul’s words.
Chalamet then clarified soon after that there was more to scoring the role of younger Willy Wonka than just that youthful rapping and tapping during his schoolboy days. Naturally his professional resume also factored in, with the actor saying:
That wasn’t exclusively what got me the part. He also liked the other movies I did!
Though the director said he only had eyes for Chalamet for Wonka, it was reported back in 2018 that several big name actors were being considered for the iconic role, including Barbie star Ryan Gosling, Childish Gambino rapper Donald Glover and The Flash actor Ezra Miller. In the end, Chalamet emerged victorious, and now his song and dance skills will be put to good use on the big screen come next month.
Set to premiere stateside on December 15, Wonka is one of the most-anticipated theatrical releases of the 2023 movie schedule, but that's not all for the 27-year-old actor. Timothée Chalamet is also returning for Dune: Part Two, which one of the biggest upcoming movies in 2024, hitting screens on March 1. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more coverage on the actor.