An actor with dwarfism has criticised Hugh Grant being cast as an Oompa Loompa in Wonka.
British actor George Coppen, best known for playing Sweet Cupid in Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil, told BBC News that he believes the role of Willy Wonka’s diminutive helper should have been given to an actor with dwarfism since there are relatively few parts available for actors with the condition.
“A lot of actors (with dwarfism) feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love,” he stated. “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. One door is being closed but they have forgotten to open the next one.”
The trailer for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel launched earlier this month, giving fans a first look at Timothée Chalamet as chocolatier Willy Wonka and Grant as the orange-skinned and green-haired Oompa Loompa.
Reacting to Grant’s appearance in the trailer, Coppen added, “They’ve enlarged his head so his head looks bigger. (I thought) what the hell have you done to him?”
In 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the first adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book, the Oompa Loompas were played by actors with dwarfism. In the 2005 adaptation, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the characters were all played by Deep Roy, who is 4 ft 4 in (132 centimetres).
At a recent event in London, Wonka director Paul King explained why he cast Grant, saying, “So I was really just thinking about that character; somebody who could be a real s**t, and then – ah! Hugh! Because he’s the funniest, most sarcastic s**t I’ve ever met.”
Wonka is due to be released in cinemas in December.
– Cover Media