All the ways Paul King tormented Hugh Grant for Wonka

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Hugh Grant has been very open about how uncomfortable he was filming Wonka. Here are all the ways director Paul King managed to torment Hugh Grant. 

Wonka is now in cinemas and we are big fans of the film. It’s an unashamedly old-fashioned, sugar coated fairy tale and the casting in the film is pitch perfect, from Timothee Chalamet’s charming Willy Wonka to Olivia Colman as the villainous Mrs. Scrubbit. 

Director Paul King also brought back Hugh Grant with whom he made movie magic in Paddington 2, but Grant has been very open about really hating filming Wonka, in which he plays an Oompa Loompa. 

So we put together a comprehensive list of all the ways King managed to make Grant, a master of curmudgeonry, even more miserable. 

He called him a “shit” 

It seems that the torture begins even before cameras started rolling on Wonka. Grant won the part because, according to King, the actor is “the funniest, most sarcastic shit” he knows. Perhaps it’s meant as a compliment, but he’s still calling the Notting Hill actor a shit. 

He also called him good at playing “washed-up, old hams”

Again, this is meant to be a compliment but I’m not sure I would take it as such if someone said I was incredible at mimicking a washed-up, old ham. Hopefully Grant took it that way though. 

King spoke about casting Chalamet as the titular chocolatier, he spoke of the young actor as “very, very controlled, very smart and incredibly emotionally intuitive.” But hey, at least Grant has found his niche, I guess? 

hugh grant paddington 2
Paddington 2. Credit: Studio Canal

Paddington 2 might have ruined Grant’s political activism

The usually grumpy actor has praised Paddington 2 as the best film he has ever made, but it did have a rather unusual effect on Grant’s private life. In 2019, Grant went door-to-door with some political candidates, urging people not to vote for Boris Johnson, but it didn’t go very well. 

“Every single one of my candidates lost. 100 percent record of failure,” Grant said and insisted that it wasn’t Love Actually obsessed adults who were freaking out, but younger fans of Paddington 2 who recognised him as the one and only Phoenix Buchanan. 

Grant hated doing the motion capture for Wonka

Grant told the press during a press conference for Wonka that he despised filming his role as an Oompa Loompa. Transforming Grant into an orange-skinned, green-haired, small-statured Oompa Loompa required Grant to do motion capture, but the actor was not a fan of the experience. He described the camera rig on his head, which captures his facial expression as a “crown of thorns”. 

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

King didn’t give Grant good enough direction

As well as being uncomfortable with the motion capture in general, it seems that King refused to give Grant proper direction. 

“I kept saying ‘I understand you’ve got 17 cameras on my face, but am I supposed to be acting with my body or not?’ And I never got a satisfactory answer,” Grant said at the press conference while King smiled slyly behind him. 

It didn’t matter anyway. 

“Frankly, what I did with my body was terrible and has all been replaced by an animator entirely.”

Wonka premiere
Hugh Grant, Paul King and Timothee Chalamet at the Wonka Premiere in Paris.

Singing and dancing in Wonka “should be fun” but apparently it wasn’t

Grant did speak about being quite fond of King and writer Simon Farnaby, having worked with them on Paddington 2 and said he has a great time trying out new lines and when moderator Edith Bowman suggested that the singing and dancing was fun too, Grant seemed to disagree. 

“You’re right, it should be fun, but a lot of that was done by the animator. I still can’t really work out what’s me, where I end and where the animators start,” the actor commented. 

King sent Grant a picture of a naked Oompa Loompa 

No one likes to receive an unsolicited nude, but apparently Paul King sent one to Hugh Grant anyway. Thankfully, the image was of the Oompa Loompa Grant is playing in Wonka, but still, that must have been quite a shock.

“Paul, quite early on in the editing process, sent me a mock-up of the Oompa Loompa stark naked. And my little children were a little alarmed at that,” Grant said. Apparently the whole thing was basically for shits and giggles as King had no other reason to send the image than to “amuse him”. 

“It was one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen in my life,” King told People. “If it ever leaks out, a generation of children will be scarred.”

But not to worry, it wasn’t too graphic of an image. 

The picture was “very delicately pixelated. There was nothing untoward. It’s just something once you’ve seen, you can’t unsee it,” King commented. 

hugh grant wonka poster
Credit: Warner Bros.

Grant just hates making films, with or without King

When asked if Grant would collaborate with King again, the actor said it would be “lovely”, which leads us to think making Wonka wasn’t quite as torturous as Grant is making it seem. 

But then he said this: “You love making films and I slightly hate it. I’ve got lots of children and I need money.”

Well, there we have it! What more could we possibly add to this, except to say Hugh Grant is our favourite British curmudgeon.

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