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Sorry, Gene Wilder: Timothée Chalamet got an actually edible teacup for “Wonka”

Sorry, Gene Wilder: Timothée Chalamet got an actually edible teacup for “Wonka”

Wilder had to chew a wax cup for 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," but the "Wonka" director wanted to go in a different direction.

One of the most famous scenes from 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is its star, Gene Wilder, biting into a yellow candy teacup at the end of "Pure Imagination." Too bad the now-famous story is that it was actually made of wax and Wilder had to act his way through the unappetizing moment.

Wonka director Paul King and chocolatier Gabriella Cugno went the opposite direction for the new film, the musical prequel movie starring Timothée Chalamet as a young chocolate maker on the rise. They confirm to EW that they made an actually edible teacup — several, in fact.

"This was one of the big challenges working on this film," Cugno, the Cardiff-based chocolatier from the U.K. who designed all the tasty treats for Wonka, tells EW. "The teacup was a big part of the film, and then it was just a huge buildup to make. It was highly...I don't want to say stressful, but intense."

<p>Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures</p> Gene Wilder's teacup scene from 1971's 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'; Timothee Chalamet in 'Wonka'

Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures

Gene Wilder's teacup scene from 1971's 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'; Timothee Chalamet in 'Wonka'

Wonka stars Chalamet as Willy when he first arrives at the European-esque Gallerie Gourmet, the place to make it as a chocolate maker. He comes with all sorts of fantastical sweets, from the Hover Choc that makes you float to the Thundercloud (made with real lightning) to the edible teacups. There are two times audiences see the signature Wonka treat in the film: when Willy opens his shop during the musical sequence for the song "World of Your Own" and again towards the end with Hugh Grant's Oompa Loompa.

It was a game-time decision to have edible teacups on the day King filmed the "World of Your Own" musical number. "I said to Gabriella, 'Is there any way you can make a chocolate teacup?'" the filmmaker recalls. "She looked at me a bit scared and went, 'How long do I have?' I went, 'About an hour and a half,' or something absolutely ridiculous."

"In my mind [were] all the variables that could go wrong, but could look good as well," Cugno says. Sometimes the crew would produce 3D-printed molds to help her shape the chocolate, but they were too busy at the time. "I was like, I've got to do this freehand, totally on my own," she adds.

Jaap Buittendijk Timothee Chalamet stars in 'Wonka' as the titular chocolate maker
Jaap Buittendijk Timothee Chalamet stars in 'Wonka' as the titular chocolate maker

What transpired could be likened to a Top Chef challenge. Cugo went into her kitchen on set and looked for something she could use to make a vessel. Flowers became her inspiration. "I didn't even think of the teacup in the original film. My mind was, right vessel," she explains. "If the vessel's a little bit crooked or wonky, because it's so quick, I can make it really beautiful with petals on the outside. That's how it happened."

"Not only did she come back with a completely edible, delicious chocolate, she came back with six of them because you need [to film] more than one take," King says. "They're these extraordinary interwoven leaves of blue and you just go, 'You're just a genius!'"

But there was another anxiety. "When we started filming with it, I think it was quite hot," Cugno notes. "I was like, 'Gosh! The handles. It's quite thin. If Timothée's hands are really warm, will the cup come off the handle?' Luckily, because I've dealt with things like this before in the past, I was able to make it work."

Audiences can see this chocolate magic brought to life when Wonka opens in theaters this Dec. 15.

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