Hugh Grant Hated Playing An Oompa Loompa Even More Than We’ll Hate Watching Him Do It
Oompa Loompa doopity doo, this was a fucking nightmare for Hugh.
The upcoming musical fantasy film Wonka, which will tell the origin story of the iconic candy-maker who looks less and less like Gene Wilder with every reboot, has been in the works since Warner Bros. Pictures acquired the rights to the titular character in 2016. Starring sad-eyed It Boy Timothée Chalamet and likely having little similarity to the original works of Roald Dahl, Wonka will open on December 15th to a generally positive early response from members of the critical community to whom Warner Bros. gave early access to the film as a part of their promotional campaign.
However, not everyone was elated to be included in the Wonka media blitz – Hugh Grant, who plays the pint-sized Oompa Loompa Lofty in the film, spoke at a press conference for the movie late last week, where he was asked about the process of creating the performance through a combination of animation and motion capture technology. “Drivel,” Grant said of the experience. “I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.” Funny – that’s exactly what I said when I saw the Johnny Depp version.
“I made a big fuss about it,” Grant said of the filming process, in which the filmmakers used motion capture for Grant’s facial performance and created full-body movements using advanced animation technology. The complex techniques required Grant to deliver his lines with a wall of cameras pressed against his face, which he described as “like a crown of thorns, very uncomfortable.”
Grant continued, “And frankly, what I did with my body was terrible, and it’s all been replaced with an animator.” Grant previously worked with Wonka director Paul King on the beloved and meticulously animated Paddington 2, but Grant’s past collaborations didn’t prevent him from emphatically trashing King’s approach to movie-making. “It’s very confusing, with CGI now, you can’t tell what’s going on,” Grant complained, as he recalled his father’s response when Grant showed him Paddington 2 – apparently, the patriarch replied, “is that a real bear?”
“I slightly hate (making films) but I have lots of children and need money,” Grant admitted. When asked if, despite all the trouble King and the rest of the production team put him through, Grant thought that the quality of the final product was worth the hard work he put in, he bluntly replied, “Not really.”
King, however, is quite aware of his star's prickly public persona and acrimony towards animation – in fact, that's exactly why he cast Grant in the first place. King said that, in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book, the orange, undersized indentured servants of Willy Wonka were “incredibly sarcastic and judgmental and cruel,” and, when he was crafting the role of Oompa Loompa Lofty, “I was really just thinking about that character; somebody who could be a real shit, and then — ah! Hugh!”