8 Characters for an Ava DuVernay directed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is easily one of the world’s most iconic films. The story of 11-year-old Charlie Bucket and his Grandpa Joe within the mysteriously wonky world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory has enthralled our imaginations for generations. Countless children have grown up watching the genius that is Gene Wilder masterfully portray the eccentric and captivating Candy man. From the moment Charlie and Grandpa Joe find their golden ticket the audience is taken on a fun ride that has earned the film its place in film history. On Wednesday the widow of the original books author, Lissy Dahl, told BBC Radio 4 that when her late husband was originally writing the book the film is based on that he had envisioned Charlie Bucket as a young Black child. Mrs. Dahl had no idea why the child was changed in the book and film to a white child. The answer to this question would come from Donald Sturrock, Roald Dahl’s biographer, who revealed that the change was made because Dahl’s agent told him to. The agent’s reasoning for making Dahl make the change was that “people would ask why?”. This agent’s line of thinking further proves that whiteness being seen as the default is something that has plagued pop culture for decades. So this fancast aims to set things right and envision Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the way Roald Dahl intended.
When the news dropped of Charlie originally being envisioned as a Black child the good Queen Ava DuVernay expressed her interest in potentially directing this version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. DuVernay is a popular choice on the internet to direct many different film adaptations with her upcoming adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time adding fuel to the fires. Ava is the type of director who has vision, creativity, and an eye for diversity and inclusion not just on the screen but behind the camera as well. Ava could produce a beautifully fun adaptation of the iconic classic that merges her imagination with the imagination of Roald Dahl.
Willy Wonka is one of the book and films main characters. He is the owner of the Chocolate Factory, the savior of the Oompa Loompas, and the one who set the contest in motion. Wonka is characterized as extremely creative, imaginative, and eccentric. Throughout the film he keeps the children and their guardians on their toes always surprising them with something new and odd. He is unpredictable and honestly hard to figure out because he is the true embodiment of “Marching to the beat of your own drum”. His colorful way of dressing and interesting way of going about creating his candy tells you all you need to know about Mr. Wonka. Hugh Jackman is the perfect choice for Willy Wonka because he is the embodiment of a Renaissance man. Hugh sings, dances, and is a helluva actor who would breath new and creative life into the role while still respecting the large shoes that Gene Wilder left behind. Jackman would give masterful flairs of irritation and anger as well as kindness and childlike curiosity.
Charlie Bucket is the book/film’s 11-year-old protagonist. Charlie is a young impoverished child with a heart of gold, who lives with his parents and four bedridden grandparents. The family has close to nothing and essentially live by scraping by, but what they lack in worldly possessions they more than make up for in the love that they have for one another. When Charlie finds his golden ticket the first thing he thinks of is his family and when they convince him to keep the ticket he decides to bring his Grandpa Joe along with him to the factory. Of all the children to enter the factory for the tour Charlie is the one who proves to be the most selfless and pure of heart. He is characterized as a kind sweet child who wants to do the right thing. In the end it is Charlie who wins the contest that no one even knew they were apart of and he becomes the owner of Wonka Chocolate. Miles Brown would be the perfect choice for Charlie due to his great ability to convey curiosity and innocence.
Grandpa Joe is one of Charlie’s four bedridden grandparents who live with him and his parents. Grandpa Joe while at times behaves rather paranoid and stubborn, of the grandparents Joe still maintains a childlike curiosity and lust for life. It is through his yes that both the reader and Charlie learn about Willy Wonka’s factory. When Charlie finds his golden ticket Grandpa Joe springs from bed out of joy and he is the guardian that accompanies Charlie on the tour of the factory. At the end of the tour when Willy Wonka tells Charlie that he gets nothing Grandpa Joe becomes infuriated at Mr Wonka for his treatment of Charlie as a little boy. It is clear that Grandpa Joe loves his grandson dearly and is willing to even tell off Willy Wonka himself. Luke Cage and This is Us‘s Ron Cephas Jones would make for the perfect Grandpa Joe.
Augustus Gloop is one of the children who found a golden ticket earning a place on the Factory tour. Gloop is characterized as a greedy gluttonous child. Gloop has an intense love and infatuation with chocolate, which heavily plays into how he makes his exit in the book. While drinking from the chocolate river in the chocolate room Gloop falls in contaminating the chocolate. The churning pipe sucks Gloop up and transports him to the fudge room where his parents are sent to collect him. IT‘s Jeremy Ray Taylor would be perfect for Augustus Gloop. He is a fantastic actor who is quite funny and adorable.
In the novel, Violet Beauregard is described as talking incredibly fast, having curly hair, and being intensely competitive by way of being an aggressive gum-chewing champion,explaining in both the book and the movies that she once chewed one piece of gum for three months straight. She is usually depicted as wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans in varying illustrations of the book, though in the films she is depicted as both a “girly girl” and a tomboy. In the course of the plot, Violet is the second child to be dismissed from the factory due to disobeying Wonka’s orders. For this role, Blackish actress Marsai Martin would be ideal as she would certainly be able to portray the above traits in a fun and interesting way, particularly the portion of the book where Violet eats the 3-course dinner gum and turns into a human blueberry after defying Wonka’s order to not consume the defective product.
Veruca Salt, while cute and adorable, is portrayed in both the novel and films as being an incredibly spoiled and selfish child courtesy of her extremely wealthy parents who typically give her whatever she asks for whenever she asks for it. She is also known to throw tantrums when she is unable to get what she wants. Unlike the other children, Veruca did not find the golden ticket herself as the employees of the Salt Corporation scoured various chocolate bars for her. In the course of the plot, Veruca’s tour of the factory ends when she is attacked by squirrels in the Nut Sorting Room and dragged down the trash chute after attempting to grab one of Wonka’s squirrels for herself. She is the third child to leave the factory. For this role, Aubrey Anderson Emmons, whose previous acting roles include ABC’s Modern Family, would be perfect as she is more than capable of portraying the bratty persona that characterizes Veruca Salt.
Mike Teavee, the fourth child to leave Wonka’s factory by way of being shrunk by the Television Chocolate camera, is portrayed as being a technologically savvy child who is primarily obsessed with watching TV, indicative of his last name. His interest in technology is especially apparent in the way that he readily sent himself through the machine in an effort to convince Wonka that it could be used as a teleportation device. For this role, Finn Wolfhard, whose previous roles include Netflix hit series Stranger Things and It, would be a great fit as he is capable of being both funny and serious.
Arthur Slugworth is stated to be one of Wonka’s biggest competitors and being the catalyst for him to shut down the factory and lay off all his workers. This was mainly due to the fact that Slugworth sent spies into the factory who then stole some of Wonka’s recipes, enabling Slugworth to make and sell those counterfeit products himself. Though he is not seen in the 2005 version of the film for more than a second, in the 1971 film he is falsely portrayed by a Wonka worker who bribes the children to sell the secrets they discovered in the factory as part of a moral test by Willy Wonka which Charlie passes. For this role, Giancarlo Esposito would be best. Personally, I would prefer that a new film based on this story takes the route of the 1971 film and uses Esposito as someone who is not in fact Slugworth but is a regular person who works with Willy Wonka to see which of the children had integrity and which did not.
With the revelation that Roald Dahl originally intended for Charlie to be a black child, there is a renewed desire for a revamped and diverse Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This cast, combined with a more modern and socially relevant spin on the acclaimed novel and film, would be a joy to see on the big screen. What do you guys think? Would you want to see a reboot of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory?