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‘Wonka’ star Hugh Grant explains why he ‘hated’ playing an Oompa Loompa

Timothée Chalamet as Wonka stares into a small glass jar containing Hugh Grant as an orange and green Oompah Loompah
Hugh Grant’s casting as an Oompa Loompa previously drew criticism from the dwarfism community, who felt the role should’ve gone to a short-statured actor.
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
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Wonka” star Hugh Grant was back to his curmudgeonly ways while talking about his latest role as an Oompa Loompa.

However, his ire wasn’t directed at the actual character but toward the computerized process involved in making the orange and green figure come to life — a process he said he “hated.”

“It was like a crown of thorns, very uncomfortable,” Grant said during a media event for the film last week, according to Metro. The “Love, Actually” actor was referring to performing with motion capture technology. He shared how multiple cameras were fixed on his face, but his bodily movements were computer-generated by animators.

Hugh Grant’s portrayal of an Oompa Loompa in ‘Wonka’ sparks criticism from George Coppen, an actor with dwarfism.

July 28, 2023

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The setup, which he referred to as “drivel,” left him confused as to whether he should “act with my body or not, and I never received a satisfactory answer.”

Grant, 63, added that dancing and other musical parts of the film “should be fun,” but what made the final cut was done by animators. They were not his own moves.

“I made a big fuss about it,” he continued. “I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.”

While Grant’s answers might appear harsh, it’s worth noting that the “Bridget Jones’s Diary” actor is known to be sarcastic and has a sardonic sense of humor. He notably faced blowback for his 2023 Oscars 2023 red-carpet interview with Ashley Graham during which he gave terse, dismissive responses. But some excused him as being “a funny, sarcastic Brit.”

After the ‘Wonka’ trailer debuted this week, director Paul King explained why he cast Timothée Chalamet as the titular confectioner.

July 13, 2023

In fact, it’s Grant’s sense of humor that led “Wonka” director Paul King to cast him for the role in the film: His Oompa Loompa is also a grump.

During a separate press event in London in July, King called the Oompa Loompas “incredibly sarcastic and judgmental and cruel” characters, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“So I was really just thinking about that character. Somebody who could be a real s—, and then, ‘Ah! Hugh!’” King said. “Because he’s the funniest, most sarcastic s— I’ve ever met.”

And Grant’s “Wonka” castmates, which include Timothée Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Keegan Michael-Key, Sally Hawkins and Rowan Atkinson, seemed to be in on the joke. At last week’s media event, Grant was asked whether the final product made the CGI difficulties worth it.

“Not really,” he replied, and the curt response drew laughter from his co-stars.

Ashley Graham breaks her silence on that uncomfortable red-carpet interview with actor Hugh Grant at the 2023 Oscars on Sunday.

March 13, 2023

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Separately, Grant’s casting as an Oompa Loompa drew criticism from members of the dwarfism community over the summer.

George Coppen, a British actor with dwarfism, said the role should have gone to someone else with short stature, and not the 5-foot, 11-inch Grant.

“A lot of actors [with dwarfism] feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love,” Coppen told the BBC. “A lot of people, myself included, argue that dwarfs should be offered everyday roles in dramas and soaps. But we aren’t getting offered those roles.”

Previous film adaptations of Roald Dahl’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — including Tim Burton’s 2005 take and Mel Stuart’s 1971 movie, “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” — used short-statured actors to play the mythical beings of Loompaland.

Grant has not yet commented on the casting and the criticism of it. Warner Bros. previously declined to comment on the casting decision.

Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.

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