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Hugh Grant’s casting as Oompa-Loompa in Wonka criticised by actor with dwarfism

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An actor with dwarfism has criticised the new Wonka movie for its casting of Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa.

Recent teasers of the forthcoming musical prequel to the beloved Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have depicted Grant, 62, as one of the tiny, green-haired orange people who work at Willa Wonka’s (Timothée Chalamet) chocolate factory.

While several Twitter users found the Notting Hill star’s casting “hilarious”, actor and comedian George Coppen, best known for his role in Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil, felt the role should’ve gone to an actor with dwarfism.

“A lot of people, myself included, argue that dwarfs should be offered everyday roles in dramas and soaps, but we aren’t getting offered those roles,” Coppen told the BBC in a new interview.

“A lot of actors [with dwarfism] feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love,” he added. “One door is being closed but they have forgotten to open the next one.”

The Independent has contacted Warner Bros for comment.

Coppen’s recent remarks are similar to those he made earlier this month on Instagram.

The actor wrote that in the previous two movies based on Dahl’s 1964 novel, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Oompa-Loompas “have been played by dwarves but this time round they have decided to take work away from us”.

Acknowledging that “some people will say that roles like this are demeaning and we should be playing more ‘normal’ roles”, he added: “But we aren’t getting offered those roles.”

Coppen added in the post that Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage “does not speak for all of us – unlike most of us he’s in a position where he can afford to turn down work”.

In a 2022 interview with The Independent, Dinklage, 54, admitted his Thrones success affords him the “luxury” to deny offers to play all kinds of diminutive fantastical figures such as “elves or leprechauns”.

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“I read a lot of scripts where the height is the only characteristic of the character, but that’s not who I am,” he explained. “It’s part of who I am, but I don’t go around thinking about it all day long. And if it doesn’t define me, why should it define a character? That’s just bad writing.”

Coppen further added: “People forget that we do get a say in the work we do,” sharing that he’s been offered roles in the past that he’s turned down. “But at least give us that option instead of just shutting us out”.

Wonka, directed by Paul King, will tell the origin story of how Chalamet’s titular chocolatier came to meet the Oompa-Loompas on one of his earliest adventures.

It also stars Olivia Coleman, Rowan Atkinson, Keegan-Michael Key and Sally Hawkins.

Wonka will be released in cinemas on 15 December.


An actor with dwarfism has criticised the new Wonka movie for its casting of Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa.

Recent teasers of the forthcoming musical prequel to the beloved Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have depicted Grant, 62, as one of the tiny, green-haired orange people who work at Willa Wonka’s (Timothée Chalamet) chocolate factory.

While several Twitter users found the Notting Hill star’s casting “hilarious”, actor and comedian George Coppen, best known for his role in Netflix’s The School for Good and Evil, felt the role should’ve gone to an actor with dwarfism.

“A lot of people, myself included, argue that dwarfs should be offered everyday roles in dramas and soaps, but we aren’t getting offered those roles,” Coppen told the BBC in a new interview.

“A lot of actors [with dwarfism] feel like we are being pushed out of the industry we love,” he added. “One door is being closed but they have forgotten to open the next one.”

The Independent has contacted Warner Bros for comment.

Coppen’s recent remarks are similar to those he made earlier this month on Instagram.

The actor wrote that in the previous two movies based on Dahl’s 1964 novel, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Oompa-Loompas “have been played by dwarves but this time round they have decided to take work away from us”.

Acknowledging that “some people will say that roles like this are demeaning and we should be playing more ‘normal’ roles”, he added: “But we aren’t getting offered those roles.”

Coppen added in the post that Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage “does not speak for all of us – unlike most of us he’s in a position where he can afford to turn down work”.

In a 2022 interview with The Independent, Dinklage, 54, admitted his Thrones success affords him the “luxury” to deny offers to play all kinds of diminutive fantastical figures such as “elves or leprechauns”.

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £6.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £6.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

“I read a lot of scripts where the height is the only characteristic of the character, but that’s not who I am,” he explained. “It’s part of who I am, but I don’t go around thinking about it all day long. And if it doesn’t define me, why should it define a character? That’s just bad writing.”

Coppen further added: “People forget that we do get a say in the work we do,” sharing that he’s been offered roles in the past that he’s turned down. “But at least give us that option instead of just shutting us out”.

Wonka, directed by Paul King, will tell the origin story of how Chalamet’s titular chocolatier came to meet the Oompa-Loompas on one of his earliest adventures.

It also stars Olivia Coleman, Rowan Atkinson, Keegan-Michael Key and Sally Hawkins.

Wonka will be released in cinemas on 15 December.

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