Timothée Chalamet Landed the ‘Wonka’ Role Because of His High School Videos

Timothée Chalamet in 'Wonka.'
Warner Bros

With the announcement of highly-anticipated films, so too, comes the rumor mill of who will get the lead role. Everyone from Donald Glover, Ezra Miller, and Ryan Gosling (he’s doing just fine as Ken) were floated as names to star in Paul King’s prequel musical Wonka. But all along, King had other ideas for who would take on the role. In fact, he had already decided without holding auditions.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, King described that he knew Timothée Chalamet was right for the Wonka role from previous performances he had seen. No, not in Call Me by Your Name or Dune. Not even alongside Taylor Russell in Bones & All. It was grainy clips of Chalamet’s high school productions that spurred King to make an offer.

“It was a straight offer because he’s great and he was the only person in my mind who could do it,” King said. “But because he’s Timothée Chalamet and his life is so absurd, his high school musical performances are on YouTube and have hundreds of thousands of views.”

Chalamet’s high school performances (he went to the artsy LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in NYC) have become lore amongst the Internet and his most die-hard fans. There’s videos of him doing some pretty intense choreography, acting in school productions, and reciting raps. And now, they’ve landed the actor one of his biggest roles to date.

The adaptation is a musical, after all. So it makes sense that King used the videos to gain insight into the actor’s abilities. But despite directly offering Chalamet the role, King did have to confirm that the actor was still able to bust a move like he did in high school. Apparently, he passed with flying colors.

“I knew that was in his arsenal, but I didn’t know how good he was,” King noted. “When I spoke to him he was quite keen. He’d done tap dancing in high school and he was like, ‘I’d quite like to show people I can do that.’”

The first trailer for Wonka dropped earlier this week, giving fans a glimpse of the 27-year-old as the titular chocolatier. It will take a slightly different approach than the original adaptation, focusing more on the backstory of Willy Wonka.

"It's not mining the darker emotions in life," Chalamet told Time. "It's a celebration of being off-center and of being OK with the weirder parts of you that don't quite fit in."