Warner Bros.' Willy Wonka prequel film Wonka has added Keegan-Micheal Key to its cast. The report comes from Deadline which indicates that Key's role in the film, as well as character details, have not been released. It was previously announced in June that Dune star Timothee Chalamet will play a young Willy Wonka in the film that is expected to open in theaters on March 17, 2023.
Wonka will be directed by Paul King from a screenplay by Simon Farnaby. David Heyman is producing on behalf of Heyday Films, with Luke Kelly also producing. Michael Siegal is an executive producer of the film, which is Warner Bros.' third film to be based on or otherwise inspired by Roald Dahl's classic children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The first two being the iconic 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and the second being Tim Burton's 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which saw Johnny Depp take on the role of the candy tycoon.
Wonka producer David Heyman previously hinted at the prequel film's story. He emphasized that the film is not a remake of either of the Willy Wonka movies that predate it.
"We are still trying to figure out how to tell that story, what the story is," Heyman told Collider. "It's a prequel, it's not a sequel. What makes Willy-when we find him at the chocolate factory doing the golden ticket, where is he before that? What leads him to that place where he's locked himself away? It's how does he get there? So we're playing around with that. It's not a remake... But it's possibly an origin story... It's challenging because you don't have Dahl, you don't have a Dahl book, and yet you have a Dahl character. But I think there's a lot in his character that suggests who he is and also where he might come from or what his childhood or his middle age might have been like. So we're exploring that. We're discussing it. We're in the very early stages and very excited about what lies ahead."
Key is an Emmy Award winner for his Comedy Central series Key & Peele (with Jordan Peele) winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series in 2016. More recently, Key starred in Apple TV+'s Schmigadoon!, Ryan Murphy's The Prom as well as Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey both on Netflix. He will next lend his voice to the character Murray in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. That film was originally set for a theatrical release on October 1, 2021, but after multiple shifts in release date due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced in August that the film would instead release exclusively on Amazon Prime Video with no release date given.
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