Soon Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s exclusive club of actors who’ve played Willy Wonka on the big screen will welcome a new member. Earlier this year, Dune actor Timothée Chalamet was cast to play Wonka, though instead of him appearing in another direct adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chalamet will follow the character at a time before he became the famed candy mogul. Now the upcoming Wonka movie has secured its second actor: Toy Story 4’s Keegan-Michael Key.
No details were provided by Deadline on who Keegan-Michael Key will play in Wonka, but his casting marks another notable update on the prequel. Those who watched Toy Story 4 will remember Key voicing Ducky opposite his Key & Peele costar Jordan Peele’s Bunny, while his other recent film credits include The Lion King remake, Dolemite is my Name and Playing with Fire. Along with his role in Wonka, Key will soon be heard reprising Murray the Mummy in Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, as well as star in Disney’s live-action Pinocchio remake as the conniving anthropomorphic fox known as “Honest” John.
With barely any story details to work off of, it’s hard to say how Keegan-Michael Key fits into the Wonka picture. The most logical assumptions is that he’s either playing a mentor figure to Willy Wonka or appearing as the movie’s main villain, but whether it’s one of those roles or someone else, no doubt Key’s comedic chops will be prominently on display in the prequel. It’s also worth noting that since Wonka will be a musical, this’ll give Key another opportunity to show off his singing and dancing talents, as seen in The Prom, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey and the Apple TV+ series Schmigadoon!.
Wonka has been in development since 2016, the year that Warner Bros. secured the rights to the Willy Wonka character. By February 2018, Paul King, the director behind the first two Paddington movies, signed on to helm the prequel, and he’s not the only talent who connected to the beloved, marmalade-loving bear’s cinematic ventures. Simon Farnaby, who wrote penned the Paddington and Paddington 2 scripts, eventually signed on to write the latest draft of the Wonka screenplay.
Meanwhile, actors like Donald Glover, Ezra Miller and Ewan Gosling were reportedly in contention to play this generation’s Willy Wonka. Even Tom Holland was later mentioned as a potential candidate. Ultimately though, the role went to Timothée Chalamet, with his casting being announced back in May. Along with playing Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s soon-to-arrive Dune movie, Chalamet has also starred in movies like Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, The King and Little Women.
With principal photography having recently begun in the United Kingdom, Wonka is set to come out on March 17, 2023. While we wait to learn who else will be joining Timothée Chalamet and Keegan-Michael Key in the cast, discover what movies will be playing in theaters sooner with our 2021 release schedule and 2022 release schedule.