How Timothée Chalamet's Theater Kid Past Landed Him His Wonka Role

Timothée Chalamet donned a top hat in 2023's "Wonka" to bring a younger version of Willy Wonka to movie screens. The beloved character was introduced in Roald Dahl's novel "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and brought to life by Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp in two separate films. However, "Wonka" explores Willy's life before that adventure and Chalamet's theatrical past made him perfect for the role. 

"Wonka" director and co-writer Paul King called his film a "companion" for the original book and Wilder's movie in a Rolling Stone interview. In the film, viewers get to witness Chalamet's singing and dancing abilities, alongside his well-known acting skills. However, Chalamet didn't audition to play the chocolatier. King said the part was in the bag for Chalamet, in part due to the actor's past in performing arts school. "It was a straight offer because he's great and he was the only person in my mind who could do it," King told Rolling Stone. "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." 

What you may not know about Chalamet is that he attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The actor is listed on the school's Notable Alumni webpage for his acting work, so he clearly had the necessary chops for the project.

Chalamet couldn't say no to working with King

During a GamesRadar+ interview for "Wonka," Timothée Chalamet told the outlet he was hooked by the "Wonka" script very quickly, in part due to the lines of the first song. He also said, "I love musical theatre and I love song and dance ... I didn't think I'd get a chance to do it, not like this. But Paul King is one of those directors that you don't say no to."

King also told Rolling Stone that Chalamet seemed interested in showcasing his dancing skills in "Wonka." Although the director didn't mention a specific performance of Chalamet's that stuck out to him, the interview linked to a YouTube video of Chalamet singing in a production of "Sweet Charity." 

However, the most recognizable performances from Chalamet's youth may be his rap performances as Lil Timmy Tim (also known as just Timmy Tim). While speaking to James Corden on "The Late Late Show" in 2017, Chalamet explained that the names were interchangeable. When asked about rappers he was emulating, Chalamet admitted that his raps were nothing like the raps of his favorite artists, and then expressed his love for the rapper Kid Cudi.

Chalamet used to rap in school projects and performances

When Timothée Chalamet was interviewed on "The Graham Norton Show" in 2019, Graham Norton played an excerpt of one of Chalamet's most popular Lil Timmy Tim performances: the "Statistics" rap that took the internet by storm. Another performance of Timmy Tim's from 2012 was uploaded to YouTube in 2017 and featured rapping, dancing, and a Nicki Minaj impression — quite a stretch from Chalamet's performance in a much-loved historical drama on Netflix: 2019's "The King." 

Cassie DiLaura at Entertainment Tonight interviewed Chalamet and Hugh Grant for "Wonka." When Timmy Tim was brought up, Chalamet called it "an awful digital footprint" to Grant. DiLaura explained Timmy Tim to the "Love Actually" actor and told Chalamet, "And we have to credit part of the clips being one of the reasons why Paul [King] wanted you for 'Wonka'!"

"That's true," Chalamet said. "I would be terrified to see Hugh's reaction. I don't think he would sit alongside me for any more interviews." Grant expressed the contrary, showing an interest in seeing Timmy Tim in action. Despite feeling some embarrassment about it, Chalamet owes a thank you to his past self for putting himself out there and helping him become Willy Wonka.