Three things: Roald Dahl, creator of Willy Wonka, was an antisemite (see: “The Witches”). Timothée Chalamet, actor, is Jewish. And Timothée is set to play a young Willy Wonka in a new musical about the chocolatier’s early life.
We, along with many others, have some thoughts and feelings on the matter.
Timothée, 25, is set to star in the third adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Dahl’s 1964 children’s book. The first and most iconic was “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder back in 1971, and the second was 2005’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” starring Johnny Depp.
Per Deadline, “While plot details are unknown, the new pic will be an origin tale of the character and mark the first time Charlie Bucket will not be featured.” Reportedly, this will also “mark the first time Chalamet gets to show off his singing and dancing skills with several musical numbers set to appear in the film.”
But why are we still adapting Roald Dahl’s work who was, again, an antisemite? In a 1983 interview with the New Statesman, Dahl stated, “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.” Cool cool cool.
In a 2020 essay for Alma, in response to news of yet another adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” being created by Māori Jewish filmmaker Taika Waititi, A.R. Vishny wrote that it’s actually exactly what we need: “What better way to insult Roald Dahl? Dahl was always tetchy about film adaptations. He notoriously disliked the 1971 ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ (starring Gene Wilder, who yes, was Jewish!). What would he have had to say about Waititi? What would he have had to say about a reimagining of the Oompa-Loompas? Perhaps this is the solution for the kinds of bigot too entrenched in the cultural narrative to condemn to obscurity. Perhaps this is the way to honor a beloved story while dishonoring dishonorable creators and righting a text’s worst failures.” Waititi is set to executive produce two animated series based on the books for Netflix.
So, a Jewish actor (once again) portraying Wonka? That can be a nice big f*ck you to Dahl!
People are complaining that Timothee Chalamet is going to start in a new Willy Wonka but personally I love it wherever a Jew gets cast in a film based on antisemite Roald Dahl’s work
— Baby Boy Monaghan (@babyboymonaghan) May 24, 2021
Beyond that, Twitter users’ feelings on Timothée’s casting — and the concept of a Willy Wonka origin story in general — are, well, very mixed:
1. Unfortunately, this is real.
ok but timmy ch*lamet plays young wonka is like a joke on 30 rock right
— rachel syme (@rachsyme) May 24, 2021
2. It’s potentially creating even more villain origin stories.
timothée chalamet being casted as willy fucking wonka is my villain origin story
— ariana🖤 (@wickedlyariana) May 24, 2021
3. We nominate Haim.
The big question now about the Timothée Chalamet Wonka prequel is who's going to record the slowed-down, pensive version of Oompa Loompa Doopity Doo for the trailer.
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) May 24, 2021
4. Truly what is 2021??
timothee chalamet being in a willy wonka origin story movie musical feels like a simulation glitch but i’m happy for him
— 👺 (@horrordyke666) May 24, 2021
5. Who would’ve thought!!
timothée as young willy wonka???????? pic.twitter.com/FyWCPf1RN9
— martina (@sharethelovs) May 24, 2021
6. *Logging off*
i will simply choose to not process the timothée as willy wonka news pic.twitter.com/HzBahJN89Q
— haley. (@suspeeria) May 24, 2021
7. Once again, Roald Dahl was super fucking problematic.
Excited to learn about the labor dispute that led Wonka to fire his employees and enslave the Oompa Loompas. https://t.co/tK24ukDmsg
— Scott Tobias (@scott_tobias) May 24, 2021
8. Like, for real, terrible.
"Why do they keep rebooting Wonka?" pic.twitter.com/70AYaXHIWR
— Danny Neary (@itsdannyneary) May 24, 2021
9. We don’t want it!!
Can't wait for the song & dance number where he enslaves an entire ethnic group to make chocolate for him https://t.co/7DeqhRB09G
— phoebe bridgerton (@coolsandstorm) May 24, 2021
11. Because really, not everyone needs a backstory!!
Say it with me: NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS AN ORIGIN STORY https://t.co/6qoJFXHPHn
— Amber Sparks (@ambernoelle) May 24, 2021
12. How fast do we think they said yes to this?
WRITER: Okay so it’s Willy Wonka, right? But get this:
STUDIO EXEC: Go on
WRITER: He’s young, he’s hot,
[STUDIO EXEC raises eyebrows]
WRITER: And he fucks
[STUDIO EXEC tips over backward out of chair]
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) May 24, 2021
13. This isn’t funny but just true:
Nobody wants this. It's another franchise exploitation that exists not because audiences want it but because shareholders demand it. https://t.co/ZqC8NNmYSO
— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) May 24, 2021
14. But, uh, we are obviously going to watch.
them: we are making a willy wonka prequel,
them: and it will feature timothee chalamet singing
me: …ok I guess I have no choice but to watch https://t.co/wDZG0t3ToH
— Mark White (@markhw_) May 24, 2021