Hugh Grant’s ‘Wonka’ Casting as Oompa Loompa Criticized by Actor With Dwarfism: “We Aren’t Getting Offered Those Roles”


An actor with dwarfism isn’t pleased that Hugh Grant was cast as an Oompa Loompa in Warner Bros.’ forthcoming film Wonka, which stars Timothée Chalamet as the titular candymaker.

During an interview with the BBC that published Wednesday, George Coppen said that many actors with dwarfism “feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love.” The 26-year-old performer is known for roles in Disney+’s Willow series and Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil.

“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,” Coppen said. “One door is being closed, but they have forgotten to open the next one.”

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Paul King’s film is a prequel to the 1971 feature Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which is adapted from Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The trailer was released earlier this month and shows Chalamet’s Willy Wonka — portrayed in the footage as an aspiring chocolatier — talking to Grant’s Oompa Loompa, who is trapped in a glass case.

That 1971 film — in addition to Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation of the book, titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — cast actors with dwarfism to play the Oompa Loompas, who work at Wonka’s factory.

“They’ve enlarged his head so his head looks bigger,” Coppen said about Grant’s role. “[I thought,] ‘what the hell have you done to him’?”

A representative for Warner Bros. declined to comment.

During a previous interview with The Hollywood Reporter, King explained why he thought of Grant as the best fit for the Oompa Loompa, who is depicted in the previously screened footage as being around 20 inches tall.

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

Wonka’s cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, Matt Lucas, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson and Olivia Colman. It hits theaters Dec. 15.


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