Timothee Chalamet turned to vocal coach to the stars for ‘Wonka’

November 29, 2023 - 5:00 PM
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Cast member Timothee Chalamet attends the world premiere of "Wonka", at Royal Festival Hall, in London, Britain, November 28, 2023. (Reuters/Maja Smiejkowska)

 Timothee Chalamet took lessons from a top vocal coach as he prepared to follow in the footsteps of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp to play Willy Wonka in a new movie that tells the origin story of Roald Dahl’s famed character.

In “Wonka”, a musical film, the “Dune” and “Call Me by Your Name” actor plays a younger version of the chocolate-loving inventor.

“(It was) daunting because the character’s beloved, people are very protective over characters they love and sceptical about Hollywood remakes. But I think we did a great job. I’m very happy with the film,” Chalamet told Reuters at the “Wonka” world premiere at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old said he worked with Eric Vetro, the vocal coach to singers including Ariana Grande, John Legend and Katy Perry.

“A lot of training, a lot of vocal lessons with Eric Vetro in LA, a lot of work,” he said of his preparation for the film’s musical numbers.

“Wonka” sees the top hat and long jacket wearing character land in a fictional city after several years at sea. The town is home to the world’s top chocolatiers and Wonka, too, hopes to open his own shop. As he chases his dream and goes against a powerful chocolate cartel, he befriends a young orphan girl and a curious small creature with orange skin and green hair – an Oompa Loompa, played by Hugh Grant.

The film is co-written and directed by “Paddington” filmmaker Paul King.

“We wanted to make a movie that would stand as a companion piece to the Gene Wilder movie, which obviously has these enduring classic songs,” said King.

“There’s a lot of clues that Roald Dahl left as to what Willy did before ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ so we felt confident if we just picked up on those clues, we could make something that Roald Dahl would be proud of,” added Simon Farnaby, who co-wrote the screenplay with King.

“Wonka” is out globally in December.

– Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Editing by Stephen Coates