Director Paul King jokes, "It's just something once you've seen, you can't unsee it"
Please allow Wonka director Paul King to explain himself.
Grant, who plays an 18-inch-tall orange Oompa Loompa with green hair in the new film, tells PEOPLE that King sent him an early rendering of the character sans clothes as a gag. And, he jokes, his children were "shocked" by it.
"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," says father-of-five Grant, 63.
The reason for the nude image? "To amuse him," says the actor, who also worked with King on 2017's Paddington 2.
Explaining, the director tells PEOPLE he and the visual effects team were figuring out "the color of the skin and the way the hair works and on all the kind of details of it," and, in that stage of animation, the Oompa Loompa "had no clothes" yet.
"It was one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen in my life," King says with a laugh. "If it ever leaks out, a generation of children will be scarred."
King adds, though, that the figure "was very delicately pixelated. There was nothing untoward. It's just something once you've seen, you can't unsee it."
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Grant says he signed on to play an Oompa Loompa in the film opposite Timothée Chalamet's Willy Wonka because he's "into my freak phase of my career, sort of circus freaks" with characters who are "weirder and weirder." Plus, he gets along with King: "We seem to be on a wavelength."
And King says Grant "took very little convincing" to agree to become the orange-and-green character.
"I think he has a very pleasing lack of vanity. He's very happy to look as ridiculous as I ask him to — I got him in a dog suit eating dog food in Paddington 2. So I think once he'd done that, he'd already hit bottom," he jokes. "This was coming back up in the dignity state."
Wonka is in theaters Dec. 15.
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