Actor With Dwarfism Feels Shorted As Hugh Grant Gets Cast As Oompa-Loompa

An actor born with dwarfism is blasting the decision to cast actor Hugh Grant in the role of an Oompa-Loompa in the latest live-action remake of the world of Roald Dahl’s famed Willy Wonka.

The upcoming film, Wonka, will focus on the early years of chocolatier Willy Wonka as he authenticates his famed candy brand and builds his mysterious chocolate factory. But when Wonka first encounters his factory workers, the Oompa-Loompas, it is actor Hugh Grant who appears through CGI as the lead little orange man.

Grant’s character as the head Oompa-Loompa is fashioned after the indelible characters created for the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. But in the Wilder-led film, the little orange men were portrayed by actors with dwarfism, not normal-sized actors shrunk down via movie special effects. And this, says actor George Coppen, is a problem.

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Coppen, who appeared in last year’s Willow series, and had roles in Artemis Fowl and The School for Good and Evil, says that the Oompa-Loompa role should have gone to an actor with dwarfism, not Hugh Grant.

In fact, Coppen feels that the film industry is shutting out actors with dwarfism all across the board.

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

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Coppen is the son of Willie Coppen, an actor with dwarfism who was featured in several of the Star Wars films and others including, The NeverEnding Story and Willow.

Hugh Grant is featured prominently near the end of the official Wonka trailer in his role as an Oompa-Loompa.

Coppen though was not impressed.

“They’ve enlarged his head so his head looks bigger. [I thought] what the hell have you done to him?” Coppen told the BBC.

The 1971 version of the Oompa-Loompas that have become so eternally linked to the Will Wonka theme — the green bouffant hair and orange skin — is , itself, a major departure from the original concept of the little men in Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, “Willy and the Chocolate Factory.” In the original, Dahl wrote that the Oompas were black pygmies from Africa. But Dahl himself rewrote the characters after the first edition was published and refashioned the oompas as white hippy-like characters after civil rights activists pointed out that the original characterization was dangerously similar to a depiction of slavery.

Wonka is the second upcoming film to take criticism from members of the dwarf community after news broke that Disney had eliminated the dwarfs from its remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and replaced them all with a more “diverse” set of actors, all but one of whom are normal-sized adults.

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Wonka is set to hit theaters in December.

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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.


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