MOVIES

Timothée Chalamet’s Gene Wilder Homage Is So Tiny You Likely Missed It

The stair moment Timothée Chalamet paid subtle tribute to in “Wonka” is from the iconic “Pure Imagination” scene in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” In the scene, Gene Wilder’s Wonka sings a song to introduce the Golden Ticket winners to his world of wonders — specifically, the Chocolate Room’s wild chocolate river and candy plants as the guests pick up their jaws from the floor. The scene opens with Wonka leading the group down the stairs, skipping down in a highly specific bow-legged fashion while casually doing two little — and, as Chalamet attested, deceptively difficult — backsteps on the way down.  

As Chalamet notes in the interview, “Wonka” also pays subtle homage to another classic Wilder moment — namely, his introduction in the 1971 movie. The scene shows Wilder’s Wonka pretending to be a frail and feeble man, then suddenly leaving his cane to stand by itself and revealing his true limberness with a sudden falling forward roll. Early in “Wonka,” Chalamet’s version of the character uses a similar self-standing cane trick during the “Hoverchocs” scene. 

Looper’s “Wonka” review found that director Paul King and Chalamet stuck the landing of the movie. It’s fun to find out that the actor did so while paying these subtle homages to Wilder’s work. 

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