Timothée Chalamet on how his ‘Wonka’ differs from previous portraits

The film history of Willy Wonka is rich and layered, and Timothée Chalamet is excited to add to the pop-cultural tapestry of the iconic, magical chocolatier in Wonka.

Chalamet and co-star Hugh Grant sat down with ET’s Cassie DiLaura at a press day in London on Wednesday, and the 27-year-old star opened up about the “crazy” it feels to play the iconic character — famously played by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 and by Johnny Depp in 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“I grew up with that Gene Wilder movie and I really admire the Tim Burton/Johnny version,” Chalamet said. “And this [version] is different. This is the origin [of] Wonka.”

“It’s not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,Chalamet explained. “People are suspicious of any new retelling of beloved characters. But I think Paul King, our director, made it happen. I let people judge for themselves.”

The film stars Chalamet as the titular hero alongside Grant – who portrays one of Wonka’s iconic Oompa Loompas — and a huge ensemble of other screen legends and comedy stars.

“It was a dream come true!” Chalamet shared. “I feel like an honorary Brit, with Hugh Grant and Olivia Coleman and Rowan Atkinson!”

“This is an insane cast and a very unique experience as a young American walking into this world, in this way Paddington creative universe that already existed,” Chalamet said, referring to the famous 2014 British comedy, also directed by King.

Chalamet had nothing but praise for getting the opportunity to work with Grant, and the 63-year-old English screen legend also shared some love for his young co-star.

“I don’t like it when someone is too successful. That’s why I was a little worried about Timothée Chalamet. His graph was too vertical!” Grant joked. “But I will say he deserves it. He’s a real, old-fashioned movie star.”

“The camera loves him, and he’s just a natural movie actor,” Grant added. “So it’s really infuriating.”

Fans can see Chalamet’s take on the iconic candy maker’s origin story Wonka can be seen in cinemas from December 15.

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