Four months after hiring Paddington helmer Paul King to direct its new Willy Wonka movie, Warner Bros. has begun putting together a shortlist of stars for the titular role, and we hear it’s led by Ryan Gosling, Donald Glover and Ezra Miller.
The project hails from Harry Potter producer David Heyman and screenwriter Simon Rich (Man Seeking Woman), and it’s rumored to be a prequel that will explore Wonka’s origin story. How did he amass his fortune, and perhaps more importantly, how did he meet those Oompa Loompas?
Warner Bros. can’t really go wrong with any of these actors, so it may come down to whoever sparks to the script. The studio has a lot invested in Miller, who stars in WB’s Fantastic Beasts franchise (which is produced by Heyman) and plays The Flash in the DC movie universe. Do they trust him enough to give him another potential franchise?
The studio has coveted Gosling for years, working with him on Blade Runner 2049, Crazy, Stupid Love, The Nice Guys and Gangster Squad. Heck, they even picked up his super-arthouse directorial debut Lost River, just to be in business with the guy. Gosling will be riding high off First Man, which could put him back in the Oscar race this fall, and after that, his schedule is pretty clear. He could also stand to do a four-quadrant, family-friendly tentpole, as most of his films have been aimed at adult audiences.
Solo sensation Glover is the real wild card here. Yes, he’s incredibly busy between his hit FX series Atlanta and his burgeoning music career, but on the film side, all he has coming up is the voice of Simba in Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King. We also hear that Glover has actively been chasing this role, and he’d certainly be a welcome change from Johnny Depp, who led Tim Burton‘s 2005 adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel.
Gene Wilder will always be the definitive Willy Wonka, but these three actors have the chance to put their own spin on the role, and we can’t wait to see who WB and King choose for the plum part.
Representatives for Warner Bros., Miller and Glover did not respond to requests for comment regarding this story, though that’s understandable, since it remains early in the casting process and Heyman is currently focused on producing Quentin Tarantino’s next film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Stay tuned…