The actor, who plays a young Willy Wonka in 'Wonka,' gave props to both Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder for their previous turns as the candymaker
Timothée Chalamet set out to make Willy Wonka his own.
During Tuesday's Wonka premiere in London, the 27-year-old actor was asked by E! News whether he had reached out to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory actor Johnny Depp for advice on playing the candymaker.
While Chalamet said he did not, he did give props to the 2005 movie, which was directed by Tim Burton and served as the second film adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's novel following 1971's musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, starring the late Gene Wilder.
"[Charlie and the Chocolate Factory] came out when I was about 10 or 11 years old. And I just thought it was very bold," said Chalamet, who previously dated Depp's daughter, actress Lily-Rose Depp, for a year and a half before reportedly breaking up in April 2020.
Chalamet also sang the praises of Wilder's movie, which he said he "love(s)" and "saw first, technically — that's the one I grew up on."
Last week, while rolling out the film in Japan, Chalamet told the crowd, according to Variety, about taking on the dream role: "If you would've told me when I was 12 years old watching the Johnny Depp version of Willy Wonka that I'd get to be here in Tokyo promoting this movie as Willy Wonka, standing next to Hugh Grant, I would've told you you were lying."
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At the London premiere, Chalamet told PEOPLE that the challenge of the role was "just to live and love the tone of it."
"I realized everything I've worked on [has had a] grounded seriousness to it, and here I had to loosen up and play, kind of like I did in high school, but I hadn't done in 10 years or something," the Oscar nominee said. "That was the learning curve. But once it was in full swing, then it felt like we were cookin.' "
Back in July, PEOPLE spoke with director and co-writer Paul King about Chalamet's performance in Wonka, during which he praised Chalamet as a "phenomenal actor" who was able to successfully put his own spin on the iconic character.
"I think what's so remarkable about his performance is not only that he is funny and mischievous and quite mysterious, as well — just like the Willy Wonka that people will know — but also he brings such heart to the role and he's a brilliant actor," the director said.
"He's incredibly emotionally intelligent and can bring a great deal of emotional truth to the role."
Asked whether the prequel film might appeal more to fans of the 1971 movie or the 2005 one, King, 45, told PEOPLE he "love(s) them both, and they're both really different." But he grew up with the Wilder film, which was directed by Mel Stuart, and was "really wary" when he watched Burton's.
"But I also completely loved its look. They did lots of really brilliant things," he continued. "I guess when we started on [Wonka], just because the Gene Wilder [film] was so iconic and so dear to my heart, I kind of wanted to make a companion piece."
"It felt like it kind of worked nicely to see the young person who might grow into Gene Wilder," the director added.
In Wonka, Chalamet's title character "comes to an uptight European center of chocolate with all these very fancy chocolate shops that sell candy at sharply inflated prices," King told PEOPLE of the movie's plot, adding that Wonka "brings this riot of color and energy and the future, and a lot more joyous sense of it."
"We try to evoke that through these kind of dance sequences there," King explained. "And there's a couple of really big numbers in there, and there's an amazing sort of zero-gravity set piece [and] some really lovely numbers."
The director said fans of Chalamet might be surprised that he "can also sing and dance brilliantly," on top of his thespian chops.
"It's really a tour de force for him there," King said. "He was rehearsing for months before we went to kind of that honing skills, which was a pleasure to watch."
Wonka is in theaters Dec. 15.
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