Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder

Rumor of the day: Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling, Ezra Miller in the mix for Willy Wonka prequel

Contributed by
Jun 5, 2018

The list of actors that Warner Bros Pictures is looking at for the lead role in its Willy Wonka prequel film includes Donald Glover, Ryan Gosling and Ezra Miller, according to a report at Collider.

Keep in mind that no official sources or industry trades have corroborated the story, which is why we're keeping it squarely in the rumor file for now. But the report does indicate the studio seems intent on moving forward with the movie, having also hired Paddington 2 director Paul King earlier this year to helm the project.

Each of the three brings his own particular strengths from a marketing and creative point of view, while none of them are bona fide box office stars at this point.

Glover has been the focus of acclaim for both seasons of his Atlanta series, and may have gotten the biggest boost out of Solo: A Star Wars Story for his well-received portrayal of Lando Calrissian. Gosling is coming off the relatively disappointing Blade Runner 2049, but still scored with the musical La La Land and will next be seen this October in the high-profile First Man, a biopic of astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Miller, meanwhile, has perhaps the closest ties to Warner Bros.: not only is he featured in the studios's Fantastic Beasts films as Credence Barebones, but he's also the company's big-screen Flash, delivering cameos in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad before giving his first major performance as the character in last year's Justice League. He's next supposed to star in a standalone Flash film, which has already had a long and turbulent development process.

Miller as Wonka might go more in the direction of Johnny Depp's turn as the character in Tim Burton's 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while we could see Gosling channeling a bit more of the definitive screen Wonka (in 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), the late Gene Wilder. Glover would bring perhaps the most different interpretation to the part and could provide a completely fresh and wry twist on the character.

The bigger question is: is anyone asking for a Willy Wonka prequel? The film is said to be an origin story that focuses on how he came to be the enigmatic and whimsical candy maker of Roald Dahl's two books and the two previous films, but as we've seen from Solo, Pan and other similar fare, prequels of this sort aren't always embraced by audiences. Would a detailed origin story dispel some of the magic and mystery of a character like Willy Wonka?

We'll find out when and if the movie goes forward, and we'll stay tuned to see how the casting situation solidifies. Meanwhile, what do you think of the actors rumored to be in the race?