Many mysterious choices were made in the creation of Wonka, chief among them the decision to tell the origin story of a wacky chocolatier at all. Another confusing twist was casting ’90s rom-com king Hugh Grant to play Lofty, one of Wonka’s early Oompa Loompa acquaintances. Grant’s involvement stirred up some minor controversy — some actors with dwarfism argued that it would have been more ethical to let them audition instead of CGI-ing Grant into a tiny green-haired man — and it sounds like maybe Grant would have preferred that, too. By his own account, playing an Oompa Loompa was a living nightmare. During a press conference last week, Grant compared the motion-capture process to a “crown of thorns.”
“I made a big fuss about it,” he said of the experience, which shrunk him to the size of a Venti latte onscreen. “I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.” Apparently, the main problem was that he didn’t know whether to “act with my body or not, and I never received a satisfactory answer.” The result? “What I did with my body was terrible, and it’s all been replaced with an animator.” So basically, Grant did not even do the sacred Oompa Loompa choreo himself, and some hero on Warner Bros.’ animation team was tasked with imagining what his butt would look like encased in purple plaid. One brave reporter, undeterred by Grant’s volatile mood, asked him if all this crucifying himself in the name of children’s fantasy was worth it, to which he deadpanned, “Not really.”
Later in the interview, Grant explained that the problem isn’t necessarily specific to Wonka — apparently he “slightly hates” making movies, but he has “lots of children and needs money.” Still, he hates CGI with an especially intense fervor, because “you can’t tell what’s going on.” Personally, I could not tell what was going on when Grant was chased down by a helicopter housing Nicole Kidman’s expensive coat during The Undoing, but fine. That role, like this one, was presumably Grant’s choice, and he is entitled to regret it as much as he wants.
Anyway, I’m glad Grant survived this ordeal, made enough money to put food in the mouths of his five kids, and lived to tell the tale. He’s got a golden ticket!