Why Hugh Grant ‘hated’ playing an Oompa-Loompa in Wonka

Wonka star Hugh Grant has revealed he “hated” the motion-capture process involved in bringing his Oompa-Loompa character to the screen.

At a recent press conference, Grant told reporters he had multiple cameras directed at his face so that the movie's animators could render his character Lofty’s appearance.

“It was like a crown of thorns,” said Grant, according to Metro, “very uncomfortable”.

“I made a big fuss about it,” he added. “I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.”

Grant explained that throughout filming he was never sure whether he was supposed to act with his whole body or just his face.

“I never received a satisfactory answer,” Grant said. “And frankly, what I did with my body was terrible, and it’s all been replaced with an animator.”

When asked whether seeing the finished film made it all worthwhile, Grant shrugged and said “not really”, to the amusement of his fellow cast members.

As to whether he found the dancing scenes fun, Grant replied: “It should be fun, but that was done by the animator.”

Hugh Grant, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson during a photo call with the cast of Wonka in London. (PA)
Hugh Grant, Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Rowan Atkinson during a photo call with the cast of Wonka in London. (PA)

“It’s very confusing, with CGI now, you can’t tell what’s going on,” he added, recalling his father turning to him during Paddington 2 and asking: “Is that a real bear?”

Later at the press conference, Grant joked that didn’t really enjoy the filmmaking process at the best of times. “I slightly hate [making films] but I have lots of children and need money,” he said, before adding that it was at least “quite fun, messing around and trying new lines”.

Wonka, a long-awaited Charlie and the Charlie Factory prequel musical, held its world premiere in London on Tuesday (28 November).

Early social media reactions called the film a “sweet treat” and singled out the lead performance by Timothée Chalamet. Editor-in-Chief Kaitlyn Booth wrote that Chalamet’s performance brought to mind Gene Wilder, who famously played Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

Wonka took me by surprise with how much I liked it,” wrote Booth. “It’s whimsical and taps into that sense of wonder we got from the original while doing its own thing. Timothée Chalamet channels the energy of Gene without doing an impression. Great family film for the holidays.”

Wonka is out in cinemas in the United Kingdom on 8 December and in the United States on 15 December. The supporting cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, Matt Lucas, Sally Hawkins, Rowan Atkinson and Olivia Colman.