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Johnny Depp, Tim Burton Team Up Again for <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory</i>


Johnny Depp reunites with director Tim Burton for a new film version of a popular children's story by British novelist Roald Dahl. Alan Silverman has a look at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

With an introduction from the diminutive Oompah-Loompahs, eccentric just begins to describe the mysterious recluse whose world-famous confections are concocted in secret behind the imposing gates of his factory. That's why it's such a big deal when Willy Wonka announces that the finders of five golden tickets hidden in his chocolate bars will be granted a special tour.

"You found Wonka's last golden ticket. Don't let anyone have it. Take it straight home. Do you understand?" "Thank you."

Young English actor Freddie Highmore plays Charlie Bucket, the impoverished lad who finds the last ticket and finds he is very different from the other winners.

"The other kids sort of have an edge about them that isn't a good edge," he said.

"I love your chocolate." "I can see that."

"Augustus is very greedy; and then there's Violet who is really over-competitive," said Highmore.

"I'm the girl who is going to win the special prize at the end." "Well, you do seem confident and confidence is key."

"Mike Teavee is a video game addict which makes him quite aggressive," said Highmore.

"Die, die, die." "Okay."

"Daddy, I want a squirrel. Get me one of those squirrels. I want one."

"There's Veruca, who is just very spoiled and gets everything she wants; and then there's Charlie, who is really a nice boy," said Highmore.

"Look, the Oompah-Loompahs!" "What are they doing?" "Why, I believe they're going to treat us to a little song. It is quite a special occasion, of course. They haven't had a fresh audience in many a moon."

Of course, the novel first published in 1964 has been made into a film before: a much beloved 1971 musical Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder as the slightly sinister candy-man. For this film, Johnny Depp says he and director Tim Burton tried to hew closer to the literary origins.

"It's a very well-loved character, so I knew I had to take it somewhere far away from where Gene Wilder [did]; I knew I had to take it far away from that," Depp said. "Having the amazing material by Roald Dahl and taking that ... trying to interpret what he might have liked to have seen in terms of cinema. What kind of character would he have liked? There was such dark and light in that story and such a subversive kind of undertone ... a twisted side to the character ... and I ran in the direction that seemed right to me.

"Everything in this room is eatable. Even I am eatable, but that is called 'cannibalism,' my dear children, and it is in fact frowned upon in most societies. Yeah. Enjoy."

Depp portrays Wonka as a pasty-faced dandy with a page-boy haircut and a voice drawn from the actor's own childhood memories of children's TV show hosts.

"I remembered thinking even then how odd the way that they spoke was ... that kind of bizarre, musical cadence to their speech pattern: 'Good morning children. Now, today ...' So I made that one of the main ingredients for Wonka," said Depp. "I was also thinking about game show hosts that I remembered on television growing up and that kind of perpetual grimace or grin on their faces. I kept thinking 'Well, they're certainly not like at home. I hope they're not.'

"Squirrels!" "Yes, squirrels. These squirrels are specially trained to get the nuts out of shells. Do you see how they tap each one with their knuckles to see that it's not bad? Oh look, I think that one's got a bad nut."

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the fourth film collaboration of Depp and director Tim Burton. As he did in their 1990 fantasy Edward Scissorshands, the filmmaker says he made as much of the fantasy environment as possible real instead of relying on CGI or computer-generated imagery.

"CG has a lot of great uses and we used some of it in the movie, but since it's not an action film and it's kind of about texture, it was important for us to build the sets, make a real chocolate river and waterfall," Burton said. "Especially with kids - and some of the kids we worked with had never [acted before] - so to have as many real things for them to react to as possible, I think, was really important."

"Why is everything here completely pointless?" "Candy doesn't have to have a point. That's why it's candy."

The international cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory includes Irish actor David Kelly as Grandpa Joe; Helena Bonham Carter plays Charlie's mom; and, as the kids who join Charlie on the fateful tour: AnnaSophia Robb is Violet, Julia Winter plays Veruca Salt, Philip Wiegratz as Augustus Gloop and Jordan Fry is Mike Teavee. The screenplay is by John August; and the musical score is by regular Tim Burton collaborator Danny Elfman.