Ryan Gosling is eyeing the role of a young Willy Wonka in Warner Bros’ “Willy Wonka” prequel to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” according to reports. Isn’t that sweet? The film is set to focus on how the confectionary enthusiast and entrepreneur met his beloved workforce, otherwise known as the Oompa-Loompas, before building up his business.
Ryan Gosling’s participation is still firmly in the rumor category, as it’s not known if the Academy Award-nominated “La La Land” actor has even met with producer David Heyman (of “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” fame) regarding the film, which has been written by screenwriting wonder kid Simon Rich (“Saturday Night Live,” “Man Seeking Woman”).
However, according to “That Hashtag Show,” 36-year-old Gosling just about fits the criteria for the role, as Warner Bros. is after a male actor aged between 29 and 35, while he is actively lobbying for it. But am I the only one that’s struggling to picture Ryan Gosling in the role of Willy Wonka?
Don’t get me wrong, the “Big Short” actor is one of the most commanding leading men currently working in Hollywood, and he’s able to add a cool charisma and stature to any film. But is he eccentric enough for the role of Willy Wonka?
I’ll admit that Johnny Depp’s performance in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was so over-the-top that it verged on annoying — especially in comparison to Gene Wilder’s more cunning and seductive incarnation of the character. But there’s an inherent goofiness and peculiarity to Willy Wonka that I’m not convinced Ryan Gosling has the skill set to deliver. None of Ryan Gosling’s past films have been so fantastical, while each of his performances has been grounded in a reality that, while heightened, is still one that we all recognize.
In Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel, Willy Wonka meets and then takes the Oompa-Loompas from Loompaland to his factory. Wonka then pays them in their favorite food, cocoa beans, which also just so happen to be rare in Loompaland. But rather than taking advantage of his diminutive underlings, he has a genuine concern for their lives — especially because they’re on the verge of becoming extinct. That’s a range that we have yet to see from the more passive and internalised Gosling, who would need to be more gregarious and enthusiastic in the role.
But maybe it’s the role Gosling has been waiting for in order to break out of his shell. From the sound of things, the impending “Willy Wonka” prequel is looking to make the character more of a father figure and move well away from Depp’s childish take on Wonka. Like the 1971 version, they also want to make it more of a musical, a genre Ryan Gosling has already proven he has credentials in after “La La Land.” Gosling hasn’t embraced his weird side, something that he’ll have to do as Willy Wonka to make the film work, but perhaps that’s because the right role hadn’t come along — until now.