what might have been

Dwayne Johnson Reminisces About the Time Tim Burton Considered Him for Willy Wonka

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it, unless your idea of paradise requires that Dwayne Johnson slip on a top hat and manage a surreal confection conglomerate. The actor took to Instagram this weekend to praise one of his favorite films, 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder as the titular candy man, and to reveal a wonderful what-might-have-been. Turns out, Johnson himself went in for Tim Burton’s 2005 film adaptation of the Roald Dahl children novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in the hopes of playing Wonka himself. The role eventually went to (who else?) Johnny Depp.

“Some cool history — back in the early 2000’s, iconic director, Tim Burton had considered me to play Willy Wonka in his remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” wrote the actor. “I remember thinking ‘HOLY SHIT, I’M IN.’ But that was many years ago when I was just starting out in Hollywood, with no foundation of global box office strength or any real acting experience to pull it off.” If it makes Dwayne Johnson feel any better, not being Johnny Depp is probably the only thing holding him back. Depp and Burton had already teamed up on 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, 1994’s Ed Wood, and 1999’s Sleepy Hollow at the time, and would later collaborate on 2005’s Corpse Bride, 2007’s Sweeney Todd, 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, and 2012’s Dark Shadows.

“The fact that Tim even considered me (albeit I’m sure he considered for all of 7 seconds) sure meant a helluva lot to me as I was just breaking in to the business with no idea what the future had in store,” Johnson says. “I’ll always raise a glass to the dreams that don’t come true, because sometimes they’re the best thing that never happened. #BigBrownBaldTattooedWonka,” a sentiment with which pretty much anyone who saw the Tim Burton adaptation can agree.

Dwayne Johnson Says Tim Burton Considered Him for Wonka