Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

It's Rumor Time: Let's cast a new Willy Wonka ourselves

Photo: Jonathan Olley (Disney)

For all useful purposes, Gene Wilder was Willy Wonka; his twinkle-eyed portrayal of the Roald Dahl chocolatier was one of the finest performances of a career that didn’t lack for them, tapping into his natural showmanship, warmth, and unpredictability to create a character who seemed capable of pretty much anything at a moment’s whim. That’s part of what makes the periodic efforts to remake Dahl’s book so frequently frustrating; both the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp attempt back in 2005, and this upcoming Wonka movie—possibly a prequel—that Warner Bros. has been developing for the last few months, are treading over perfectly well-trod ground.

Nevertheless, a “shortlist” of actors for a new take on William Wonka, confectioner, has leaked onto the internet, and, much to our deep annoyance, it’s actually kind of exciting. (We know, we know.) Courtesy of Collider, this is all sitting waaaaay out in the realm of pure imagination, but current candidates for the part apparently include Ryan Gosling, current film Flash Ezra Miller, and Solo stand-out Donald Glover, who’s apparently been angling for the role for years.


The frankly pretty damn frustrating thing about this whole endeavor is that Warner Bros. seems bound and determined to give this utterly unnecessary film a truly top-notch creative team; Man Seeking Woman creator Simon Rich is reportedly working on the screenplay, Paddington’s Paul King is in talks to direct, and Harry Potter’s David Heyman is set to produce. And if we’re being entirely honest, if the worst choice your braintrust can come up with for Willy Wonka is Ryan damn Gosling, you’re actually doing pretty good. The Glover idea is especially annoying, in so far as soon as you hear it your brain starts to work out what it would look and feel like, despite itself. (The only saving grace there is that the dude is super-busy these days.) Miller, meanwhile, is already well-embedded in the Warner Bros. machine, while also being easily one of the best parts of its DC film franchise, so it wouldn’t be insane to see him get the nod, either.

Anyway, we really, truly do not want to feel even a bit excited for a fucking Willy Wonka prequel, and we resent the hell out of Warner Bros. for making that the remotest of possibilities. In retaliation, here are some other candidates we’ve come up with for the part, just to taint the waters a little bit and tamp our own irresponsible expectations down:

John Stamos

Stamos actually has a history with Wonka; he played the part in a recent show at the Hollywood Bowl, complete with Finn Wolfhard, “Weird Al,” and a pair of distinctive sideburns he didn’t seem terribly inclined to lop off for the role. (Thus delighting the “Hirsute Grandpa Wonka” demographic in the crowd.) Stamos’ “Pure Imagination” was, uh…hard-working, if nothing else, but he’s probably way too old for what Warner Bros. seems to be going for here.

Jared Leto


It’s just a shame he’s suddenly so busy; we’d come for the “damaged,” tattooed take on Wonka, and stay for the 30 Seconds To Mars cover of “The Candy Man Can.”

Tilda Swinton


Okay, we came up with this one as a joke, but holy shit, now we’re obsessed with it, pretty much bringing about the exact opposite effect of what we sought to do with this list. Tilda, please, do this.

Johnny Depp, again

Ah, there we go. Expectations successfully brought down back to Earth.


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